Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
February 25th, 2015
Episode 118 of 689 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 25, 2015 is: gourmand \GOOR-mahnd\ noun 1 : one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking 2 : one who is heartily interested in good food and drink Examples: Uncle Gerald was a bit of a gourmand; he traveled far and wide to the finest restaurants and always remembered to bring his appetite. "The dish that caused the grizzled old gourmands at my table to put down their forks in wonder, however, was a helping of dark, softly gnarled sunchokes, which Kornack cooks to a kind of sweetbread tenderness, then plates over a freshly whipped chestnut purée with disks of shaved truffles and the faintest exotic hint of eucalyptus." Adam Platt, New York Magazine, December 29, 2014 Did you know? "What God has plagu'd us with this gourmaund guest?" As this exasperated question from Alexander Pope's 18th-century translation of Homer's Odyssey suggests, being a gourmand is not always a good thing. When gourmand began appearing in English texts in the 15th century, it was a decidedly bad thing, a synonym of glutton that was reserved for a greedy eater who consumed well past satiation. That negative connotation mostly remained until English speakers borrowed the similar-sounding (and much more positive) gourmet from French in the 19th century. Since then, the meaning of gourmand has softened so that although it still isn't wholly flattering, it now suggests someone who likes good food in large quantities rather than a slobbering glutton.