Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Literally, a varietal (not)

Why use the proper word when a fancy word will do?

I recently 'tweeted' a link to a story on Virginia cider and the apple varietals commonly grown and pressed for cider. Wrong, I was! I had used the word "varietals," when what I should have written was "varieties."

Merriam-Webster defines "varietal" as an adjective —" of, relating to, or characterizing a variety"— although it offers a secondary definition, first used in 1950, of a noun meaning " a wine bearing the name of the principal grape from which it is made."

A Twitter account that trolls Twitter searching for any incorrect usage of "varietal" discovered my error. (Yes, there is such a thing person!)

I searched back through my blog and found that I had committed this egregious error on eighteen other occasions. Consider this my mea culpa. When I have the time, I'll redact change all "varietals" to "varieties," or, fancier yet, "cultivars."

I'm literally red in the face. Well, figuratively.

  • "Arneis" is a white wine grape variety originating from Piedmont, Italy. When @cultivar_bot tweeted " "Variety" and "cultivar" arneis nouns," it he probably had meant to say "...are nice nouns." We'll forgive him his trespass.
  • I wonder: could a cider fermented from one apple variety be called a "varietal?"
  • Related link: Food flummery.
  • If you are a fellow grammar geek, consider 'following' Grammar Girl.

  • For more from YFGF:

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