Meanings: “Food”

February 23, 2012

“Food” is another four letter Anglo-Saxon word with very old roots.  I’m intrigued that food and fuel (energy both) are tangled together in the etymology, as is “pasture.”  Here’s what has to offer:

food Look up food at
O.E. foda “food, nourishment; fuel,” also figurative, from P.Gmc. *fodon (cf. Goth. fodeins), from Germanic root *fod-, equivalent of PIE *pa- “to tend, keep, pasture, to protect, to guard, to feed” (cf. Gk. pateisthai “to feed;” L. pabulum “food, fodder,” panis “bread,” pasci “to feed,” pascare “to graze, pasture, feed,” pastor “shepherd,” lit. “feeder;” Avestan pitu- “food;” O.C.S. pasti “feed cattle, pasture;” Rus. pishcha “food”). Food chain is from 1917. Food poisoning attested by 1864; food processor from 1974.

This morning, as the brand is sold by Procter & Gamble to Kelloggs for $2.7 billion, Mark Bittman lashes into Pringles as not really food.  Bittman notes you could feed 75 million children for a year with that $2.7 million.



About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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