• quaff •
kwahf • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: To drink copiously, heartily, especially alcoholic beverages.
Notes: Today's word has been legally adopted by English, so its only family is the personal noun, quaffer. The present participle, quaffing, is used for the adjective and noun.
In Play: Today's word refers to drinking prodigiously, implying without attention to the kind of beverage being imbibed: "At the post-game celebration, the winning team quaffed expensive champagne like it was beer." It is particularly appropriate today: "I wish I had a nickel for every beer that will be quaffed along with the hamburgers gobbled down tomorrow."
Word History: Today's Good Word is probably the result of misreading the written word, as people sometimes pronounce the T in often but not soften. It was borrowed from Old High German quaß "to eat and drink gluttonously" as Middle English quass, but with the sense limited to "quaff". Quass was lost in the dust of history. However, it is possible that the German Eszett "ligature S" (ß) was misread as a double F. It is also possible that the double S in quass, which differed from double F only in lacking a cross bar, was mistaken for a double F. In any case the trail gets too foggy at this point to proceed. (We owe hearty gratitude today to grand wordmaster Rob Towart, who thought today's Good Word topical for the impending Independence Day celebrations.)
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