This doesn't make sense to me. Is it just laziness?

  • If that is the way Queen Elizabeth pronounces it, that is good enough for me. – user78279 Jun 4 '14 at 14:03

From Dictionary.com:

Word Origin & History


c.1300, vitaylle (singular), from Anglo-Fr. and O.Fr. vitaille, from L.L. victualia "provisions," noun use of plural of victualis "of nourishment," from victus "livelihood, food, sustenance," from base of vivere "to live" (see vital). Spelling altered early 16c. to conform with Latin, but pronunciation remains "vittles."

Vitaille had no "c", and hence its English form was pronounced "vittle". Only later was the "c" added.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Mine was a crap answer, you're right. – FumbleFingers Jul 7 '11 at 18:55
  • A little out of the way here, @drm65, but why was 'c' added? – Thursagen Jul 7 '11 at 19:09
  • 5
    It's called a false etymology -- essentially, some scholar along the way missed the intervening few hundred years of French (and, one would suppose, Proto-Romance) usage and assumed it came from the Latin more directly. A surprisingly large number of English spellings are back-formed this way; victuals is actually more correct than most since it can eventually be traced back to victus. A lot of false etymologies are nothing more than coincidence. – bye Jul 7 '11 at 20:54
  • 3
    Early linguists tended to be Latin scholars, and thought all languages should have rules similar to Latin's. This is the source of all kinds of sillyness, like the supposed rule that setences should not end with prepositions, or infinitives should not be "split". – T.E.D. Nov 2 '11 at 19:17
  • 2
    silent c: indict, victuals, arctic; silent p: receipt; silent s: isle, island; silent b: debt, doubt, subtle. All these have to do with 16th century zeal for etymological explanations. – RainDoctor Jun 24 '13 at 4:58

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