This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Monday, 26 May 2014

Spot the frippet: mastic.

Where will you find mastic?
Well, apart from hardware stores, and around baths and windows, you'll mostly find mastic in the magically marvellous mastic tree.

It's only usually only a small bush, is Pistacia lentiscus, but it's a tough old thing all the same. It grows all round the Mediterranean and Middle East and in Mexico and the Canary Islands.

But of all the places where it grows the most special is the Greek island of Chios, because it is only there that the mastic tree weeps when its bark is cut.

And what does it weep? Well, mastic, of course.

Mastic is thought to be mentioned in the Bible as bakha, a word probably derived from the Hebrew word for weeping.

(Ah yes, you will think, that's because of the tears of mastic that fall from the tree when it is cut. But the truth is stranger still, because if you walk over a mastic tree and break its branches then the tree makes a pathetic weeping noise. How weird is that?)
The mastic itself:

 is used in cakes, alcoholic drinks, cakes, ice cream, bread, soups, meat and cheese. It's part of Holy Oil, toothpaste, skin cream and perfume.

Mastic has been used as chewing gum for at least 2,400 years.

And what do you do with chewing gum?

Yes, that's right. You masticate it, of course.

Spot the Frippet: mastic. The word mastic derives either from either the Greek verb mastichein, to gnash the teeth, or  the other Greek word massein to chew.


  1. Ah!! I was wondering if masticate would come into it!
    That was all very interesting.
    I'm assuming that type of chewing gum is still in use in some parts of the world?
    I don't think it is here. Probably costly?

    1. A quick internet search tells me that you can get mastic gum capsules at £19,95 for sixty. They're sold as a health food for stomach ailments.
      If you try them, let us know how you get on!

    2. I'm not a gum chewer, so if I have stomach ailments, they're out of luck! :)

  2. Haha! Y'know, when you mentioned 'masticate', I had an "Ahh! That's where she was going!" moment too, just like Jingles : o )

    1. Every well-trodden path is lined with chewing gum.