• chowder •
chæw-dêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: A thick seafood soup, usually containing corn and potatoes.
Notes: This word refers to a special kind of soup. Since oyster soup isn't thick, most call it 'oyster stew'. The one derivational relative for chowder is the compound chowderhead. Why this word means "dolt" is anyone's guess.
In Play: Manhattan style clam chowder contains tomatoes; New England style does not. A man once ordered clam chowder in a restaurant and did not know this fact. So, he asked the waitress what kind of chowder he was eating. She didn't know, either, but told him she would ask the chef. She returned with the news that it was "Campbell's", the name of a popular canned goods company in the US.
Word History: Chowder was named for the pot it was cooked in: French chaudière "a pot". French remodeled Late Latin caldaria "cooking pot" to get its word. English cauldron came from Old North French cauderon "big cooking pot", the augmentative of caldaria. Spanish recast the same word for its calderon and Italian for its calderone. Late Latin caldaria was a remake of Early Latin calidarium "hot bath", a place noun derived from calidus "warm, hot". Latin came by this word from PIE kele- "warm", which came to be lee, the windless warm side of mountain, and luke as in lukewarm, literally "warm-warm". Chauffeur was also borrowed from French, where it meant "stoker", back in the days of steam car engines. (Today's Good Word comes to us via one of the long-time editors of the Good Word, Mary Jane Stoneburg, to whom we owe a double helping of gratitude.)