Printable Version
Pronunciation: fres Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: Gobble, gorge, devour, pig out, eat gluttonously.

Notes: I've lived in the northeastern, southeastern, and Midwest US, and spent a lot of time out west in Colorado, but this word I've never heard or seen in print; yet, there it is in 17 of the OneLook dictionaries. I've also lived a half century among the Pennsylvania "Dutch" (Germans), which should contain it.

In Play: Hunger is what calls out fressing more often: "The soccer team celebrated their victory by quickly fressing the supper the coach's wife had prepared for them." Desire is the second most frequent motivation: "Manly Guy fressed away his spinach like it was his favorite food that he would never see again."

Word History: Today's Good Word was copied from Yiddish fresn or German fressen "to devour, gobble, eat like an animal", from Middle High German vrezzen, from Proto-Germanic fraetana "to eat up". This word was originally composed of fra- "for" or an intensive prefix + etana "to eat". It is cousin to Old English fretan "to devour; fret". Today in German, fressen "to eat" and saufen "to drink" are used when talking about animals. With subjects referring to humans, they mean "to eat and drink slovenly, like animals". It is a noun in Icelandic: fress "tomcat". Proto-Germanic etan was the result of PIE ed- "eat", origin also of English eat, German essen, Latin edere, Greek edein, Lithuanian ėsti, Armenian utem, and Irish ith. Sanskrit adman "dish, food" and Russian edim "we eat" fall among these examples, too. (Now it's time to thank wordmaster George Kovac for not only his substantial contributions to the Agora, but for finding this lexical outlier and pulling it back into our collective memory.)

Dr. Goodword,

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