Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for November 26, 2020 is:
victual VIT-ul noun
1 : food usable by people
2 victuals plural : supplies of food : provisions
“One day, I will have a large and well-organized fruit and vegetable garden that will furnish far more of my victuals.” — Adrian Higgins, The Washington Post, 12 Aug. 2020
“‘Why, she’s hungry, poor little lady,’ said the younger woman. ‘Give her some o’ the cold victual. You’ve been walking a good way, I’ll be bound, my dear. Where’s your home?'” — George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 1860
Did you know?
If you’re hungry for the story behind victual, get ready to dig into a rich and fulfilling history. The word derives via the Middle English and Anglo-French vitaille from the Late Latin plural noun victualia (“provisions”), and ultimately (by way of victus, meaning “nourishment” or “way of living”) the Latin verb vivere, meaning “to live.” Vivere is the source of a whole smorgasbord of other English words, such as vital, vivid, and survive. It’s also the root of viand, another English word referring to food. There’s also vittles, a word that sounds like it might be an alteration of the plural victuals (both are pronounced /VIT-ulz/) but which is actually just an earlier development of the Middle English vitaille that was served before victual.