Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


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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.



December 16th, 2014

Episode 47 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 16, 2014 is: réchauffé \ray-shoh-FAY\ noun 1 : something presented in a new form without change of substance : rehash 2 : a warmed-over dish of food Examples: The day after the holiday, it was traditional to serve réchauffés and snacks rather than cook a full meal. "[It] is a réchauffé, lifted and stitched from 'The Gastronomical Me' and other books." Victoria Glendinning, New York Times Book Review, June 9, 1991 Did you know? We borrowed réchauffé in the early 19th century from the French; it is the past participle of their verb réchauffer, which means "to reheat." Nineteenth-century French speakers were using it figuratively to designate something that was already old hatyou might say, "warmed over." English speakers adopted that same meaning, which is still our most common. But within decades someone had apparently decided that leftovers would seem more appealing with a French name. The notion caught on. A recipe for "Réchauffé of Beef a la Jardiniere," for example, instructs the cook to reheat "yesterday's piece of meat" in a little water with some tomatoes added, and serve it on a platter with peas and carrots and potatoes. Réchauffé shares its root with another English word, chafing dish, the name of a receptacle for keeping food warm at the table.