"gourmand" means someone who is excessively fond of eating and drinking, while "gourmet" someone who is a connoisseur of food and drink.

Does "gour-" mean food?, "-mand" command and demand, and "-met" enjoy?

Etymology says "gourmand" is not connected with "gourmet".

  • Actually, the entry for gourmet shows there is some connection. Whether we can help with the ultimate etymology of French words remains to be seen... – Andrew Leach Oct 19 '13 at 19:11
  • Etymonline must be wrong then. Anyway, note Andrew's link to the entry for 'gournet' for analysis of the parts (or what is really that they are not really parts). – Mitch Oct 19 '13 at 20:00

The French verb 'to taste' is 'goûter'. A 'gourmand' is a person fond of food. It is not strong enough to imply they are a 'glutton', ('glouton' covers that) but someone with a healthy appetite. 'Gourmet' means exactly what it means in English, a connoisseur of fine food.

As Andrew implies I think sorting out the etymology of French word-endings could be a job for a specialist.

The verb 'dégoûter' which seems to come from the same root as 'goûter' appears at first sight to have something to do with taste. But it means to 'disgust' and some English people have misused it and inadvertently told the French waiter the soup was 'disgusting', when they meant to say 'delicious'.

Oddly the word which looks like disgusting, 'déguster', means to savour and to enjoy. So if you enjoy your food, you should tell the waiter it is 'dégustant', not 'dégoûtant'.

Just shows how misleading French to English can sometimes be.

  • OED gives no indication that either word has any connection with gout=taste. They do say that gourmet is related to Spanish grumete=ship's-boy (and perhaps Anglo-Norman gromet=groom). Maybe the original reason for having a "captain's boy" wasn't so much about providing sexual gratification at sea as it was about having someone taste the captain's food to make sure it was safe to eat. – FumbleFingers Oct 19 '13 at 20:26
  • @FumbleFingers: what is "captain's boy"? – Tim Oct 19 '13 at 20:37
  • @FumbleFingers Well, the OED does provide a link from gourmet to grummet, meaning 'ship's boy', simply saying 'compare'. But the connection could be the other way. i.e the boy was called a grummet because he was employed as a 'gourmet'. The overall sense you get from the OED is that 'gourmet' simply comes from the French word of the same spelling. Whilst the OED doesn't indicate any connection to 'gout', it would seem remarkable that the first three letters of all these words associated with taste began with the same three letters, if they were not connected in some way. – WS2 Oct 19 '13 at 20:46
  • @Tim: I don't really know! In the entry for "grummet" (cited as possible source of gourmet), OED says it's A ship's boy; a cabin-boy; the boy required to form part of the crew of every ship formerly provided by the Cinque Ports. Personally, I only know grummet as a (often, slightly affectionate) local dialectal term for a socially inept/awkward adolescent boy in my native Sussex. – FumbleFingers Oct 19 '13 at 20:47
  • WS2: I agree that it is likely that gourmet and gourmand are ultimately related. I would not find it at all remarkable that they be unrelated to gout, with which they share just two sounds, nd which had an 's' in Old French. They might be, but I would require stronger evidence than a surmise. – Colin Fine Oct 19 '13 at 23:44

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