Printable Version
Pronunciation: smor-gs-bord Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A meal consisting of an assortment of foods served buffet style. 2. An eclectic mixture, a salmagundi or hotchpotch of anything.

Notes: The best way to use today's word is in the original, literal sense by inviting your friends over (or, better yet, being invited by your friends) to a genuine Swedish smorgasbord. A (preferably large) table heavily laden with edible and potable delights. However, you may also bring a smorgasbord of suggestions to a negotiating table, too, so long as there are many suggestions by and large unrelated one to another.

In Play: Here is an example that employs today's Good Word in both its senses: "If anyone buys this smorgasbord of clothing designs you call a line, I'll fete them to a real smorgasbord at my home." Any collection of odds and ends is susceptible to description as a smorgasbord: "The convention was more a smorgasbord of fashionable prejudices than a focused colloquy on teenage bullying."

Word History: Today's Good Word is the Swedish word smörgåsbord, comprising smörgås "(slice of) bread and butter" from smör "butter" + gås "goose, lump of butter" + bord "board, table." The use of bord to refer to tables also took place in English, to which "room and board" testifies. Our $5,000 dining room tables are a far cry from what we ate on prior to the introduction of forks, which occurred only about 500 years ago. Board is also related to border, since another related Old English word, bord, referred to edges and coastlines. It also referred to ships, a fact to which aboard bears elegant witness. Smör is a cousin of English smear and German schmieren "spread, smear". (A smorgasbord of thanks and gratitude to Otto Abrahamsson of Sweden for suggesting today's appetizing word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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