Listen to this episode and find out more about it at theallusionist.org/foood.
This is the Allusionist, in which I, Helen Zaltzman, post language's bail.
It’s food season at the Allusionist. The other day, KFC tested out its first plant-based chicken products - well, chickenless chicken, really. They didn’t get fancy with the terminology; but a lot of brands do, when they’re coming up with products that aren’t made of the thing they sound like they’re made with. Today’s episode is about these not dogs. Parma sHams. Approximeats. Mimeatic? Imeatations? T-bone fake? Venisnton...
On with the show.
HZ: When is cheese not cheese? Or crab not crab? When it’s krab with a K or cheez spelled with a Z.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: That goes especially back to the 1920s.
HZ: Welcome back to the show Nancy Friedman; she’s a branding consultant and name developer, and she studies trends in product names.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: The 1920s were kind of a big era for inventive spellings, with V and K: Tasty Kakes with a K, that was the 1920s; Cheez It - C H E E Z I T, 1921 it was. They're cheesy crackers. And. Let's see. There's Cheez Whiz which is a little newer, 1952. These names have been around quite a while.
HZ: And is the idea with things like Cheez Its and Cheez Whiz that it's a cheese-esque product but it isn't technically cheese?
NANCY FRIEDMAN: It's got some dairy, usually some kind of whey product in it; but you're not meant to think that this is - first of all, it's not perishable the way cheese is. So yeah, they do have some family relationship to a cow; but it's not the pure product. We have to remember that there was a time when that was a nifty thing. It was modern and scientific.
HZ: Does anyone go for cheeese, spelled with a triple E, as a variant?
NANCY FRIEDMAN: I haven't seen any brands that are doing that. But now I will look for them.
HZ: You can have that on me.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Yeah. That would be very internetty, to go for three or four vowels.
HZ: A product that made merry with the vowels AND replaced S with Z is Wyngz, that’s W Y N G Z.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: That one is one of a kind. It's a product from DiGiorno. They make pizza. They're best known for their pizza. They introduced Wyngz, and they are described as 'white meat chicken fritters', and they have this whole explanation for “why we don't call our capital-W Wyngz lowercase-w wings”.
HZ: “Why do we spell Wyngz the way we do? The short answer: Because they're not wings. They're even better.” The long answer? Not available on DiGiorno’s website, but my speculation would be because wings - W I N G S - would be obliged to be made of actual wings (W I N G S), and there’re only two of those per chicken, but you can squeeze so many more wyngz out of the other parts of one chicken.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: This was really interesting; this is the only case I could find of a US federal regulator actually stepping in to clear this up. In December 2010, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Information Service published a 277-word statement about this brand name only. They called it - I'm going to quote - "a fanciful term on poultry product labelling", and they specified it has to be white chicken; it can't actually contain any wing meat from that chicken; and no other misspellings are permitted. It's really quite remarkable.
HZ: That's incredible. So the one thing that it sounds like it contains is the one thing it absolutely cannot contain.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Well, yes; it does come from a chicken, but not the wings of a chicken, so it's ‘wings’ in airquotes.
HZ: Wouldn't they have saved themselves a lot of trouble by not even alluding to the concept of wings?
NANCY FRIEDMAN: You know, I don't know. They seem to have done pretty well with the product. So who can say?
HZ: What do I know?
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Yeah really.
HZ: Another way of expressing that your chicken-esque product may be made from some chicken-related substance or even not made of chicken at all is an apostrophe.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: We have chicken spelled various ways like c h i k apostrophe n just as an apostrophe replaces a letter in contractions like 'you're' - y o u apostrophe r e - it is, I think, I'm guessing here but this makes sense to me: the apostrophe here indicates a substitution. So what we're substituting is textured soy protein, maybe, for actual chicken. So it's sort of a clue. However, the laws in the US - I can't speak for other countries - in the US, the laws are vague, and some chickens with an apostrophe are actually made from chicken that has been broken down and shaped into, say, nuggets. So you can't tell until you read the package what kind of chick apostrophe n you're getting.
HZ: I've seen stea’k with an apostrophe before the K, e’ggs with an apostrophe after the E. But those aren’t because the spelling has changed, or a letter has been removed, like chick apostrophe n; the apostrophes are indicating those are vegan versions of steak and eggs.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Right. It’s a little flourish, a little orthographic flourish. it's a little signal almost, that says "wait a minute hold up. This isn't your grandfather's steak; this is something different."
HZ: It strikes me that a lot of these only work in writing. I feel like I should play a little bell when there's supposed to be an apostrophe in saus’age.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Oh, that would be nice.
HZ: But you could say krab with a K out loud or saus’age without it being obvious that it’s not just crustacean-crab or meat sausage...
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Well I have heard that, "crab with a K". Yeah, that does come up sometimes. Sometimes with air quotes too.
HZ: It's getting complicated.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Yeah, we need special emoji too, oral emoji.
HZ: Are some of these unique spellings and orthographic flourishes so that a company can make a common word into a word that they can trademark?
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Well no, not really; because trademark is really old school and it's based on the oral tradition really. So he standard is ‘likelihood of confusion’ and that is often based on the way a name sounds. So for example, if I were to invent a new cola and I wanted to call it Koka Kola, that looks different from the Coca-Cola we know and love; but it wouldn't fly and we get slapped so hard with cease and desist, wouldn't know hit us. So it's really based a lot on the sound. Sometimes inexperienced companies go in thinking we can we can get this past the trademark board with a funny spelling, but it's not how it works.
HZ: Portmanteau product names, I think, do manage to do the job of conjuring a familiar foodstuff that’s not made of the thing it sounds like it’s made of: Soyrizo, fauxmage, Tofurky...
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Tofurky is a true portmanteau of tofu and turkey, and that's been around a while. Let's see. I'm not seeing a lot of portmanteaus. They're hard to do well. [6.5s]
HZ: What about peaf - pea beef?
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Oh god! You've seen that?
HZ: No, I'm just just saying it's available. Pea protein beef- not beef that's made of human pee.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Alright, you heard it here first.
HZ: You're welcome.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Boy, that just counters some unpleasant images, Helen, I have to say. Perhaps if you spelled it P E A F it might be a little better.
HZ: That was my thought. But you’re right, portmanteaus are hard.
HZ: Although ‘facon’ for fake bacon is a pretty good portmanteau. Several kinds of names to choose from for bacon-esque products, bac’n, there's bacun, with a u instead of an o, unbacon - un is quite a common prefix for approximeats, or the suffix -less: beefless, fishless.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: And there's some ‘non’ - non-burgers and things like that. Although there is kind of a counter-trend to to just be rather blatant and say things like Beyond Burger an Impossible Burger, which are made from vegetable protein. So they're saying, "We're not fake anything; we're a burger that goes beyond. We're the burger you didn't think was possible.”
HZ: A couple of episodes ago, cookbook editor Rachel Greenhaus mentioned her disinclination to describe vegan recipes in such a way that made them sound like ersatz or inferior versions of meat or dairy dishes, rather than good in their own right. So should the likes of Beyond Burger be going beyond the word ‘burger’?
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Yeah, but if we were being really honest, the Beyond Burger would be called a pea protein patty; which I think we'd have a hard time selling, frankly. So you do have to have a little borrowed interest, so to speak, to get people to understand what category of food they're they're buying and eating; which is you know when we get into this whole pushback from the meat lobby. "No, you can't say ‘burger’.” They want them to say 'discs' and 'slabs', things like that that sound like they come out of a Lego kit.
HZ: Slab. Such an appetizing word.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: 'Tubes'. Quorn tubes, instead of sausages.
HZ: That seems unfair, given that sausages and burgers are more a genre than specifically a particular kind of content.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Yeah, exactly. And burger is just a truncation of ‘hamburger’ which means 'from the city of Hamburg'. It was originally 'hamburger steak'. We dropped the 'steak', then we dropped the 'ham' which had nothing to do with pigs. And so a burger really doesn't intrinsically suggest any kind of meat at all.
HZ: 'Sausage' just meant 'salted' initially.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: That's right. That's right. Yeah. And meat, since Old English, just meant food, as opposed to drink.
HZ: That’s right: ‘meat’, often spelled mete then, was food, and usually the word ‘flesh’ would have been used to mean meat as in animal-meat. The flesh-meat meaning of meat started catching on in the 13th century, but still then you had terms like ‘grene-mete’, meaning vegetables, bake-mete, a pie, ‘whit-mete’, milk or eggs; and by extension, ‘non-mete’, a meal at noon, followed by ‘after-mete’ meaning the afternoon - the time after food - or ‘mete-yevere’ - someone who holds feasts, or is generous or hospitable - ‘mete-bord’, a table, or after all that, ‘coker-mete’, to crap out all the meat.
But, as we know, language changes, and it’s rarely a sufficient linguistic defence to say, “Well this is how Chaucer used ‘mete’, why can’t I?” Meat-related terminology is having a complex moment; the rules are literally being written, in just the last few months several territories around the world have been instituting guidelines and regulations about how only animal-meaty products can have animal-meaty product names. The whole area of plant-based food-naming law is developing; it’s not very consistent; it doesn’t necessarily fit with what’s happening linguistically; in, for instance, the US, food labelling laws in some states insist that animal product words only be used for animal products, but these regulations clash the First Amendment’s protection of free speech which covers commercial speech, as long as it’s not misleading, so you can go to court to argue for or against the notion that terms like ‘veggie burger’ or ‘soy milk’ could mislead someone into expecting a cow-related product. But while all this churns on, one person who ran into a bit of legal coker-mete this summer was Melanie Boudens.
MELANIE BOUDENS: My name is Melanie Boudens, and I am the owner and chef of Grow Your Roots in Kanata, Ontario.
HZ: Grow Your Roots is Melanie’s vegan restaurant.
MELANIE BOUDENS: Our business is completely vegan. Everything that we make and sell is always 100 percent vegan.
HZ: It’s on their signs. It’s on their menu. And yet. A few weeks ago, Melanie and her restaurant landed in trouble with the CFIA, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, because the food she serves does not contain animal products.
MELANIE BOUDENS: So it all started out with a consumer complaint. So on our menu we have a lot of good alternatives to - basically what we do is we make the vegan options of the same familiar items that you would make at home or that you'd see on a restaurant menu like the classic items veganized.
HZ: Such as tofu eggs benedict, the TLT sandwich - yes, TLT, tempeh bacon - wingless wings, buffalo chick’un - that’s double points, apostrophe and ‘un’ - note: whether a restaurant is vegan or not, buffalo chicken contains no buffalo meat, it’s named after the town of Buffalo NY where the dish was supposedly invented. Nonetheless, that wasn’t the problem on this fateful occasion: it was the tuna sandwich.
MELANIE BOUDENS: We have a tuna mash, what we call - it is actually tuna chickpea mash. So we make it taste like tuna, just by using nori seaweed. And on the menu we put 'tuna' in quotations, call it 'tuna' chickpea mash.
HZ: And the word ‘tuna’ has ‘un’ right there in the muddle of it! HOW MANY CLUES DID THEY NEED?
MELANIE BOUDENS: And a customer had ordered the tuna mash with the added cheddar cheese option, and then at the end of their meal, enjoyed everything, cleared their plates, wanted to order a cappuccino; and when asked what type of milk that they would like, she said "just two percent milk", not realizing that we don't carry two percent milk because we don't carry any dairy.
HZ: It being, as aforementioned, a vegan restaurant.
MELANIE BOUDENS: So she was kind of a little bit thrown back: "But what do you mean? I just had dairy cheese on my sandwich. So why don't you have dairy milk?" We said no, you had vegan cheddar cheese on your sandwich, no dairy cheese. And that kind of sparked the whole conversation. So she spoke with one of the servers about her concerns about the way that we labelled our menu, and I tried to explain why we don't feel the need to say you can cheddar cheese or dairy free cheddar cheese because we already put '100 percent vegan' on the menu. We put it on the sign. We already cover the fact that it's vegan on the menu.
HZ: So it's hard to miss that the place is entirely vegan.
MELANIE BOUDENS: Yeah. Yeah exactly. So there's definitely very clearly some confusion on her part, not quite understanding the concept of it. So yeah, I tried to explain that I believe that I can kind of call it whatever I want to call it in the menu, because we are a vegan restaurant, and we're just trying to make the menu sound appetizing and for people that come in who aren't vegan or don't know much about vegan as their first vegan experience, that they know like, "Oh OK. So this is going to look smell and taste just like the regular dairy cheddar cheese I'm used to."
HZ: I guess it must do, if she mistook it.
MELANIE BOUDENS: Yes. That's the irony of the whole story with us is that the customer didn't even know that she had eaten vegan cheddar cheese because it was that good like she couldn't even tell the difference.
HZ: Nonetheless, the customer made a formal complaint to the CFIA. And two weeks later, a CFIA agent visited the restaurant.
MELANIE BOUDENS: She sat down with me and she went over our menu and talked about all the items that she wanted me to change and that she wasn't happy with, that the CFIA would not approve of. There's quite a few things on the menu that they weren't happy with. The first one was the cheese, obviously, calling it cheddar cheese. She was saying we need to at least change it to 'vegan cheddar cheese' or 'cheddar cheese style'. And then we also make three kinds of cheeses in house which is our almond feta, our cashew mozzarella and our cashew parmesan, and we label them as those on the menu. But she wanted us to add in 'cashew Parmesan-style', 'almond feta-style', 'cashew mozzarella-style'.
HZ: Vegan mayonnaise, also a problem…
MELANIE BOUDENS: So that was the other term that she didn't want us using because there was no eggs in it.
HZ: The textured vegetable protein burger - that was a problem…
MELANIE BOUDENS: We have some faux chicken on our menu which we call 'unchicken', which is kind of a fun name to use. She wasn't very pleased with that, but she wasn't very sure what she was going to need us to change yet.
HZ: That’s the thing - the CFIA agent wasn’t happy with Melanie’s terminology, but didn’t actually have official guidelines for what plant-based foods are supposed to be called. Just a few days from the time of recording, CFIA will close its public consultation under its Food Labelling Modernization Initiative, and then work on proposals for updating Canada’s food-labelling requirements, some of which have not been changed for several decades. Meanwhile, the CFIA agent gave Melanie a two-week deadline to change the menu. She didn’t.
HZ: Do you at points think, "Oh, it would just be so much easier to capitulate"?
MELANIE BOUDENS: I did. At the very beginning I was like, "You know, Mel, don't start anything, just change the menu, do what you're told." And it wasn't settling in with me very much, just because I know myself and other vegan business owners are trying really hard to kind of create this movement with veganism and make it more of mainstream lifestyle I guess. And I felt if I were to just kind of roll over and change the menu, I wouldn't be doing very much for this movement that myself and so many other people are trying to to build up.
HZ: Melanie wanted to reinforce that she wasn’t trying to dupe her customers into eating flora rather than fauna.
MELANIE BOUDENS: A lot of people were thinking it was a case of us hiding what's in our food, or us trying to make our food look like something it's not. Which is definitely a misconception. I know myself and so many other vegan brands out there are really proud of the ingredients that we use, and the fact that we have become innovated to use cashews to make cheese and that kind of thing. It's not a case of trying to steal the words or anything like that; it’s s just trying to modernize them with the new options that we can now offer
HZ: Perhaps Melanie have made an easier life for herself by coining new terms for her vegan foods, rather than using ones more commonly used for non-vegan foods, but she didn’t want to. She wanted to use terms that non-vegans would find familiar and appealing. The ‘borrowed interest’ Nancy was talking about.
MELANIE BOUDENS: I think it's just important for consumers to know that none of the companies are trying to deceive anyone by calling things cheddar cheese or vegan pulled pork or anything like that. We really are just using those terms so that the consumer has an idea of what to expect when they do try these items. We want to use these terms because they are so familiar to consumers. Cashew mozzarella. So then you know it's going to look taste and smell and have the same texture just like the mozzarella you're used to that's made from dairy but just made from a different base. That's all it is. We're just changing the base of things. That's really why we want to pull these terms from the dairy and the meat industries: just so that we can kind of create a new normal for these items.
HZ: Also, there is significant precedent for food terms that allude to other foods. For instance, peanut butter - it is not butter as in churned milk solids, it just has a butter-proximal texture. “He said it was peanut butter! But it was just pulverised peanut, waaah, and peanut’s not even a NUT!”
Like that serial liar coconut - not a nut! Coconut cream? Not cream! Coconut MILK? NOT MILK! How are people not in the streets protesting these lies?
“Hello? Police? I want to report that I was serviedtoad in the hole that did not contain toads - and when I ordered pigs in blankets, there were no actual blankets…”
Just a few arguments that Melanie Boudens can keep in her back pocket in case the CFIA ever drops by again. For now, though:
MELANIE BOUDENS: So we actually just had our last visit from the CFIA last week. And it turns out we don't have to change anything but one thing. And there are no repercussions of not changing anything. The only thing we need to add to our menu now is, like I mentioned we have the almond feta, cashew mozzarella and cashew parmesan, we put what’s in it at the beginning of the of the word. So we just need to do that to our cheddar cheese. So originally we called it 'cheddar cheese'. Now we have to call it 'coconut cheddar cheese'. But other than that, we get to keep our burger, we get to keep our chicken and we get to keep our mayo, all of our cheeses. We don't have to add the word 'style' or 'vegan' in front or behind anything. And the case is essentially closed! So yeah, it was really worth it to stick up and say, "No, I don't think I'm going to adapt to what you're saying."
HZ: It also wasn’t really worth the CFIA’s time pursuing Melanie, because she just runs one restaurant; they would have to monitor all the restaurants in Canada listing plant-based imeatations.
MELANIE BOUDENS: They would be spending months and months and months going out to all these other restaurants to do the same thing as us; and they just don't have the staff nor the time nor the need for it at this time.
HZ: Yeah. Well also opens up the precedent for doing this for the vegan establishments, they would also have to check all of the non-vegan foods.
MELANIE BOUDENS: Yeah, exactly. Because they actually don't even monitor restaurants anymore, the CFIA; they used to go into restaurants, they used to have an entire sector of people who would go into restaurants and make sure that you know oh there's a 7oz steak on the menu. Is it actually 7 ounce? Let's weigh it. Or they're claiming to make this house-made, are they actually making it in-house? That kind of thing. So they used to have an entire sector that just did that in restaurants, but they have completely cut that. The only time they go into restaurants now is if there's a consumer complaint. So we were just lucky to get that consumer complaint and have them visit us. Otherwise they never would have touched us.
HZ: They've got bigger fake fish to fry.
MELANIE BOUDENS: And those are the exact words that she told me on the initial visit: that she did have bigger fish to fry and more important things to do.
HZ: I do anticipate more positive and negative attention on approximeats because they’re becoming a bigger slice of the food market, and because there’s serious money in the products - Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, IPO this, squillion dollar investment that. Let’s check back in a few years to see whether plant-based burgers are really being called pea protein patties.
MELANIE BOUDENS: I think this is a growing pains period where we all need to modernize what we call things and get used to things until it does become more mainstream for everyone, not just people dabbling in alternative foods and stuff. eah I think there is definitely needs to be a shift in what we do call our foods, because like anything, I mean, everything is new and things are adapting and we're not seeing the same things that we used to see on the grocery shelves and in the grocery stores. So I think as businesses moderators and consumers we all need to modernize what we call foods and what we expect foods to be.
HZ: And then there're going to be even more names.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Even more names. Yes. Something to look forward to.
HZ: Because I feel like the apostrophe thing isn't good enough. That seems lazy to me.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: It does seem lazy, and I think it's run its course. Maybe we'll see some new punctuation - asterisks maybe.
HZ: Maybe it'll be an apostrophe after every letter of sausage.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Oh my God.
HZ: Yeah. Chaos. I don't think I had really registered mylk with a Y until a couple of years ago, but that seems to be getting bigger.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Yes - and I think that seems to have started in Europe and is just now appearing in the US, to indicate not just non-dairy milk but specifically nut milk. And I've also seen 'milked nuts'. So that's one way they're getting around the potential problem of nut milk not coming from a cow. Milked but with an I; milked walnuts is actually in my fridge as we speak.
HZ: ‘Milked walnut’ just comes as a very vivid image of someone pulling the udders of a walnut.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Yeah. Little tiny nipples. Yeah.
HZ: Into a bucket. Very rustic.
HZ: Melanie Boudens is the chef and owner of Grow Your Roots vegan restaurant in Kanata, Ontario. All the food is vegan, repeat: it’s vegan. Don’t be surprised that it’s vegan. The restaurant is vegan. Check out the menu at growyourrootsveganeats.com.
And coming up in today’s Minillusionist, Nancy talks about a time when a hamburger wasn’t called a hamburger, but not because of laws about what constitutes a burger.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: In the First World War there was a lot of renaming things so they didn't sound German. That's how we got Salisbury steak.
HZ: Oh interesting. What was that before?
NANCY FRIEDMAN: You didn't know them?
HZ: We have different steak names to the American ones.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: It was hamburger - hamburger steak. And my god, we couldn't use it the name of a German city and they were, you know, the Hun and we were fighting them. So there was this push to rename it Salisbury steak, which exists still, although it's not a hamburger. It's by itself, it's just some meat with some gravy on it. You'll still find it in some old style cafeteria.
HZ: I wonder why they chose Salisbury.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: Because it's so English, I think?
HZ: It's a very charming cathedral town, I guess.
NANCY FRIEDMAN: There you go. Maybe it's the alliteration.
HZ: It’s not, upon further investigation, anything to do with alliteration, or Salisbury, eight miles south of Stonehenge, and home to allegedly Britain’s oldest working clock.
The Salisbury of Salisbury steak is actually - ding ding ding! - an eponym! But Salisbury steak is not named after the person who invented the food; who indeed could lay claim to inventing a blob of minced meat, a foodstuff which has been around in many many forms for many hundreds of years in many parts of the world; Hamburg didn’t invent it either, but as a major port city, Hamburg did have a lot of concepts coming in and out, and thus this Hamburg-associated beef puck, this mince slab, traveled - to England, where it made its earliest known appearance in print in the 1753 edition of Hannah Glasse’s cookery book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. It was going by the stage name ‘Hamburgh sausage’ then. But if you’re going to make it big, you’ve got to get popular in the USA, whether you’re a wodge of seasoned meat or John Oliver. And lo, in the mid-19th century, the foodstuff travelled from Hamburg with people migrating across the Atlantic, and thus became a sensation on the menus of New York City, and thence became the diet food of choice of Dr James Salisbury.
James Salisbury believed that health was contingent on diet. In the 1850s, he tested regimes wherein one ate just one kind of food at a time - experimenting on himself, his baked beans-only diet lasted only three days before he was overcome with flatulence and dizziness; so he then tried things out on other people. He studied the effects upon four men of eating nothing for a month but oatmeal - lot of diarrhoea and not a great time, according to his notes. He even tended to 2,000 pigs so he could try out the single-food diets on them to the point of death. And after a few years, he concluded that the optimal diet was low in fat, starch, and fruit and vegetables, which he believed were poisonous and causing numerous physical and mental ailments. The perfect food, he eventually decided, was beef. His 1888 book The Relation of Alimentation and Disease gives details of his experiments and the cures he has concocted for maladies of all sorts. Spoiler: the key ingredient is, I quote, “the muscle pulp of lean beef”. Accompanied by a little celery and hot water to drink, if you’re lucky. You’re a baby? When your teeth start to come in, get going on beef juice and level up to beef pulp. Dr Salisbury’s diet was a big hit, and his loosely formed and lightly seasoned beef pulp globs came to be known as Salisbury steak.
Maybe you're screaming, "No, Helen! A Salisbury steak is NOT a burger! It's not got bread either side of it! It swims in gravy! Where’s the cheese?"
Firstly: I can't hear you. Secondly: I've already spent enough time today considering the semantics of ‘burger’. And I think I'll just leave it at, if you have to ask whether it's a burger, it's not a burger. You know a burger when you see it.
Your randomly selected word from the dictionary today is…
wasm, noun: an outmoded policy, belief, theory, doctrine or enthusiasm, an ism of the past.
Try using it in an email today.
This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. The music is by Martin Austwick. We’re about to go on tour with the Allusionist live show No Title, an exciting romp through gender in language and how we should GET RID OF IT. It’s very fun and interesting; it’s about to be on in London and then the USA. Keep an eye on theallusionist.org/events for tour dates. You can find allusionistshow on Twitter.com/allusionistshow, Facebook.com/allusionistshow and Instagram.com/allusionistshow; and you can find every episode, and transcripts, and more information about every episode, at theallusionist.org.