This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sunday Rest. Word Not To Use Today: stearine.

 I've been wondering what stearine means for decades.

Yes, I've looked it up, but I've never found it in anywhere, not even in the Oxford English Dictionary.

 The thing is, PG Wodehouse uses stearine at least twice, and anything PGW wrote is worth studying. Actually I think stearine must have been a small private joke of his: in The Truth About George, for instance, George Mulliner falls in love with a girl who knows not only the meaning of crepuscular, but of stearine, too.

Well, these things will form a bond.

Anyway, I've been doing some research and I have, I hope, solved the problem. Stearine (a nasty sneering word) means of course made of stearin.
So there we are!

...what?

Oh, glyceryl tristearate. You get it from beef fat or palm oil, or when making cod liver oil. You can make candles or soap with it, or even, or so the OED claims, statuettes.

I must say, now I come to think about it, I quite fancy the phrase stearine bulge. But I shall resist it while I can.

Word Not To Use Today: stearine. This word comes from stearin, which is from the Greek stear, which means stiff fat, tallow or suet.

PS. I've just consulted my new Collins Dictionary, and it does have stearine in there as an alternative spelling for stearin. Rats! Do hope this doesn't mean people will go and start actually using it. 

STOP PRESS: I'm so sorry to hear about the terrible storm that's affected the Philippines, where The Word Den has many very valued readers.
My thoughts and hopes are with you all.




No comments:

Post a Comment