Printable Version
Pronunciation: ko-shêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Conforming to Jewish dietary laws, ritually pure. 2. Observing Jewish dietary laws, as 'a kosher household/restaurant'. 3. Suitable, fit, acceptable, legitimate.

Notes: Kosher is a Yiddish word that acquired so much currency that it has been accepted into the general English vocabulary (Meaning 3 above). It may be used as a verb, meaning "to make kosher". It also can be negated two ways: unkosher or non-kosher. Kosherness has been rarely used since it first appeared in print in the 1940s.

In Play: Fundamentally, this word refers to Jewish dietary custom: "Naomi's family keeps a strict kosher kitchen: meat and poultry dishes are blue, dairy dishes are white." However, the sense of this word has wandered away from religion: "That's a lot of money just for driving you and your friends to and from a bank, Robin. Are you sure this job is kosher?"

Word History: Today's Good Word is Yiddish kosher, taken from Ashkenazi Hebrew kasher "proper", passed down from Hebrew kasher "fitting, proper", The underlying root is ktr "to succeed, achieve, be(come) suitable, proper", which also underlies Mishnaic Hebrew kashrut "ritual fitness". (Now a word of thanksgiving to the Word Lady of the Agora suggesting today's Good Word in time for Rosh Hashanah. Forgive me for missing the date.)

Dr. Goodword,

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