Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In particular, I want to ask if we have the term "conserved food". E.g.

I have ordered some of your favorite dishes, like chicken, pork, and [conserved/preserved] fish.

This is a question in our mid-term paper. Our teacher said it should be preserved.

Below is the explanation from Longman Contemporary Dictionary:

conserve

  1. to protect something and prevent it from changing or being damaged = preserve

     We must conserve our woodlands for future generations.
     efforts to conserve fish stocks

  2. to use as little water, energy etc as possible so that it is not wasted

     systems designed to conserve energy

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by Carlo_R., FumbleFingers, Robusto, StoneyB, Daniel Nov 17 '12 at 20:06

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers 2

As a verb, to preserve food is to process it to extend its useful life. To conserve food is to use it responsibly now so that enough remains later.

As a noun, preserve refers to a food whose primary ingredients are fruit pulp and sugar, cooked to a thick consistency. Also known as conserve or jam, this food was invented to preserve the ripe fruit that could not be eaten at harvest time and would otherwise spoil, and to conserve it for use at other seasons such as late winter when fresh food is scarce. So this is an example of a food being named for its purpose.

share|improve this answer

Both have Latin roots similar to the English, and the big clue here is the prefix "pre-" meaning before, in advance, prior. In latin servare means "to keep safe" and the total effect of the prefix and the root is "action done in advance to maintain or protect."

Conserve can be a synonym of preserve. The prefix "con-" or with added to the root intensifies the meaning of servare, however it does not imply the added sense of "an action done to keep safe."

To preserve an object is to protect it from change. To conserve an object, on the other hand, is to use an object sparingly with the knowledge that it could run out.

In terms of food...

In the sense that to conserve means "to maintain as is," conserved food, in this case fish, could refer to a certain type of fish that has been maintained as a food source against over-fishing or something like that. Preserve, in the sense of "maintain for the future," would refer to fish that had been cured and packaged so that it could be eaten at a later date. The curing and packaging would be the proactive safeguard.

There is some overlap here, but I think, in the case of food, the difference between conserved food and preserved food is the difference between food that has been served in limited quantities and food that has been put in the freezer for later.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.