Printable Version
Pronunciation: kê-mes-tê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: (Literary) Edible, eatable, fit to be eaten.

Notes: This word is rather superfluous, given the existence of edible and eatable, so it is more often than not used humorously. Although it is basically an adjective, today it is used more frequently as a noun referring to edible items. The adverb is comestibly and the abstract noun, comestibility "edibility".

In Play: Today's word has a literary ring that sets it apart in ordinary conversation and suggests a bit of playfulness: "So, you went to the store, did you? What delectable comestibles did you bring home with you?" It is the perfect word when you would like to add a note of sardonicism to a statement: "Dinner was an array of comestibles that we would not ordinarily think of eating."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin comestibilis "edible", an adjective derived from the verb comedere "to devour", the origin of Portuguese and Spanish comer "eat". The verb comprises com-, an intensive prefix, + edere "to eat". If the root of edere looks familiar, it should: it is the root of edible and the native English word eat. It also shows up in Russian est "eat" (ed-im "we eat"), Greek edmenai "eat", and Greek odune "(gnawing) pain". Since we think of acid's action as "eating" away metal, it should be no surprise that the verb referring to cutting metal with acid, etch, comes from the same root. (We would like to thank Susan Lister for today's almost comestible Good Word and the other lexical delicacies she has served us over the years.)

Dr. Goodword,

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