Monday, March 19, 2007


The Word Salmagundi

Andrew MacGillivray passes on a quotation from the Prolegomenon to Michael Bywater's Lost Worlds (Granta, 2004), p. 9:
If this is - as indeed it is - a salmagundi of transience, a pot-pourri of the Vanished, a taxonomy of loss and the vanity of human wishes, does that therefore mean that it is sad, gloomy, a lowering of the spirits? No. We can leave that task to government and international politics.
Andrew cites the Online Etymology Dictionary entry for salmagundi, from which I learn that Rabelais was the first to use the word:
1674, from Fr. salmigondis, originally "seasoned salt meats" (cf. Fr. salmis "salted meats"), from M.Fr. salmigondin, coined by Rabelais, of uncertain origin, but probably related to salomene "hodgepodge of meats or fish cooked in wine," (early 14c.), from O.Fr. salemine.
There also seems to be a connection between salmagundi and salami:
"salted, flavored It. sausage," 1852, from It. salami, pl. of salame "spiced pork sausage," from V.L. *salamen, from *salare "to salt," from L. sal (gen. salis) "salt" (see salt).
Related post: Rotten Pot.

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