The Taste Dictionary: 101 Ways to Describe Food

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New research today reveals that we now think, plan and talk about food for more than 16 hours a week on average (that’s almost six years of our adult lives) – putting it on par with the nation’s favourite topic of conversation, the weather. Despite this, when it comes to complimenting the chef, ‘delicious’, ‘tasty’ and ‘nice’ are still top of our vocabulary, with most Britons only using six different words to describe meals each week.

  • Britons spend nearly six years of their lives thinking and talking about food
  • But we use only six different words to describe taste during an average week
  • Wordsmith Susie Dent and Sainsbury’s launch The Taste Dictionary to countdown the tastiest ways to talk about food; including Fire-fanged, Mordacious and Pertish

To expand this limited list, Sainsbury’s has recruited linguist Susie Dent to add a little flavour to the nation’s foodie vocabulary, unveiling ‘The Taste Dictionary: 101 ways to describe each mouthful’. The dictionary includes a plethora of words to inspire the nation when describing some of their best-loved foods – a flavour includes ‘neptunian(meaning: carrying the strong flavour of the sea), ‘fire-fanged’ (meaning: Having a scorched appearance or taste) and lickerous’ (meaning: sweet and tempting).

Conversation about food has never been so popular, with almost a third of people (30%) admitting to sharing food pictures on social media. On average, we send at least one food-related text or message to friends and family every single day.

However, when it comes to describing our dishes, adjectives are taking a back seat compared to visual cues  - the research shows over a quarter of Britons (26%) rely on emojis to do the talking, with the ‘smiley face’ and the ‘tears of joy face’ the most used and despite more than 214 million hashtags used on Instagram for food images alone, the breadth is still limited: ‘#foodporn’ (101.9 million); ‘#instafood’ (68.3 million) and ‘#foodstagram’ (17.8 million)4 are amongst the top foodie hashtags as Brits bypass traditional vocabulary to try to generate as many shares and likes as possible.

Susie Dent, English lexicographer, etymologist, and face of Countdown's ‘Dictionary Corner’, comments: “I have so many favourite words in this list, and each of them offers a rich or sumptuous alternative to our usual taste repertoire. I particularly like mordacious, a word to describe something sharp and with a real bite –  it brings to life foods such as mustard and gooseberries beautifully.  As a nation we love our dialects too, and there is a lot of regional variance in the names for different foods (barmcake, bap or bun anyone?). However as we become more experimental with what is on our plates, our language also needs to evolve to reflect this new culinary landscape. The Sainsbury’s Taste Dictionary is a great way to spice up your meal time and to get the conversation flowing over the dinner table.”

Susi Richards, Head of Product Development for Food at Sainsbury’s said: “We are always looking for ways to inspire our customers when it comes to trying and enjoying different foods. It’s been great to get Susie on board to impart her knowledge and expertise in the area of language, alongside our strong heritage in quality food. With The Taste Dictionary including new and unexpected words, it will be an additional source of inspiration to the Sainsbury’s food team in how we think and talk about food.”

The  Sainsbury’s Taste Dictionary has been created as a limited run of books and is available to download as a PDF. Join the conversation and share your favourite words on Instagram or Twitter using @SainsburysNews and #TasteDictionary. There will also be a limited number to win through the Sainsbury’s Twitter and Instagram channels. 

 

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About the article

  • Posted on: 31 October 2016
  • Type of article: Press release

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