Saturday, August 06, 2011


Jim from Elk Rapids asked a strange question: “Could you discuss the origin of the elements in a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich?” I take it that it’s not an agricultural question.

Bacon comes from a Germanic word that meant the back. Meat from the back and sides of a pig were cured by salting or by drying, thus producing bacon.

Lettuce came from a Latin word that meant milk. That may seem unlikely at first glance, but it referred to the milky juice that some varieties of lettuce will exude upon cutting.

Tomato came from a Mexican word that meant the vegetable that we know and love. In American slang, a tomato once referred to an attractive young lady. Come to think of it, lettuce and bacon (bringing home the bacon) once were slang terms for money.

SIDEBAR: Procul Harum, Bringing Home the Bacon

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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