Saturday, March 15, 2014


Timothy was telling me of his plans for St. Patrick’s Day, and they included a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner.  He wondered about the origin of corned, since no corn is apparent in the dish.

Corned beef is preserved or cured with salt. The basis is a common Germanic and Scandinavian word that meant a worn-down particle. The shape and size were the important elements, not the substance itself.  You could have grains or corns of sand, salt, pepper, gunpowder, coffee, wheat, rye, barley, and so on. The word kernel is connected.

The word cabbage has at its core the concept of a head, and it is Anglo-Norman in origin. The genus into which it falls is Brassica, a Latin word for cabbage and allied plants. The adjective form is brassicacious.

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

Nook edition

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