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Apr 26, 2002 08:37 AM

Pet peeve--corned beef

  • a

Just curious, why do so many people call it "corn" beef, not "corned" beef??

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  1. For the same reason that many people call it "ice tea" and not "iced tea."

    1. I don't care what they call it. Now that they've taken most of the fat out of it, I don't order it anymore.

      1. m
        Molly Symmonds

        Seems to me that people don't realize that "corned" refers to the method of preparation. Few people know that, according to my New Oxford American Dictionary (forgive the plug!), "corned" means "preserved in salt." Consider pickled cucumbers: no one says "Pass the pickleds." Verbal shorthand, and it makes sense for speakers to think of one common foodstuff - corn - when talking about another - beef.


        9 Replies
        1. re: Molly Symmonds

          ...and the grains of salt used for corning beef are about the size of... kernels of corn!

          (my plug for food lover's companion)

          1. re: Dan
            Molly Symmonds

            I really need to keep an OC to Food at my desk, because I didn't know that nifty 'niblet' about salt.
            Thanks, Dan.

            1. re: Molly Symmonds

              Dans explanation is the one I've heard.

              "...and the grains of salt used for corning beef are about the size of... kernels of corn!"

              1. re: Sweet Willie

                Still, it is CORNED. We don't call it smoke salmon, it is smoked salmon; we don't call it boil eggs, it is boiled eggs. Corning is the method and is referred to in the past tense. Oh well, probably the same people who say "I could care less".

                1. re: Alan H

                  This process of altering words over time by dropping bits has a philological designation: clipping. So think of it as a venerable quality of language, a kind of evaporation of sound, like water boiling away in the pot. Now, doesn't that make you feel better?

                  1. re: Alan H

                    It goes both ways in standard English. We refer to popcorn, instead of popped corn. Or roast beef, instead of roasted beef. Hash browns, not hashed browns. A french fry instead of a french fried, though we sometimes say "french fried potato"

                    As far as "could care less" vs. "couldn't care less" dispute, I'm don't understand why grammarians are always griping about it. The former is sarcastic, not illogical.

                    Intellectually I'm for descriptive rather than prescriptive linguistics. But it's not as if I don't have my share of pet linguistic peeves, like "data" being plural.

                    1. re: Lindsay B.

                      I could care less when a sentence ends with a preposition. But, alas, I still care when, between you and I, there's confusion.

                      1. re: saucyknave

                        Yeah, there's so many confusing things going on nowadays, for somebody to understand their situation properly, is a whole nother thing.

              2. re: Dan

                corn v. 1. To granulate or form into small grains. 2.a. To preserve and season with granulated salt. 2.b. To preserve in brine. (American Heritage Dictionary)

                When the British say "corn", they are referring to any grain, such as wheat, rye, etc. When they mean corn, they say "maize". Was the book written by an American or a Britisher?

            2. it seems that "corned beef" and "corn beef" almost sound alike that maybe people are slurring the pronounciation of the former leaving the "-ed" silent; also, it seems saying "corn beef" is faster than saying "corned beef". i dunno.