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Nibbles and sneads

A word in a NYT article threw me right out today. The women Senators of the US congress dine together once a month. At a recent dinner, they "nibbled on bread pudding".

Would men have "nibbled"? Or is the author emphasizing dainty feminine eating?

What does "bread pudding" connotate for US readers? Is it exotically British? Is it homely and comforting? Is it currently trendy? I have no idea.

Is "nibbled" even a good verb for a squishy dish? I was so uncertain that I turned to Webster's second international for help. (The answer is that yes, of course one can nibble on bread pudding. It's not a drink.)

A "nib" is, among its other meanings, a synonym for a handle on a snath. A snath can also be a snead. But, just to be confusing, a snead can also be a whipsocket. Happily, a whipsocket is exactly what it sounds like it should be: a socket for a whip.

All that was from a dictionary, but an online post clarified the relationship between snath and snead:
The scythe, without the blade is the Snath
The snath without the handles is a Snead
The handle on the sneed which make it a snath so it can become a scythe
is a Thole.

So a nib can be a thole, at least when it's on a snath?

Somehow, I doubt the grain which went that senatorial bread pudding was harvested by using the snath of a scythe. But the Senators tholed the pudding (since "thole" is also a verb meaning "to endure"), and hopefully enjoyed it too.



Mar. 23rd, 2013 01:50 pm (UTC)
My feeling is that the NYT's use of such a connnotative word as "nibble" (which to me means "eat delicately") is quite closely related to the fact that the eaters were a group of women. More neutrally, they could have said "ate" or "had". Perhaps this is everyday sexism, or perhaps it was an attempt to be somehow courtly on the part of the article writer (that may well be everyday sexism in itself of course). I find myself slightly wishing the writer had used "devoured" or "chomped on"... :)
Mar. 23rd, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC)
You'd think, given that it's the New York Times, that they could have noshed on the pudding.

For me "nibble" also means that probably a good portion was left behind afterwards (you don't nibble an entire bag of chips), so I'm guessing that the bread pudding was endured.

(And yes, it does seem to be a bit trendy or growing more common on restaurant menus in the US these days.)