3

When I was a kid, I'd heard folks calling a confection as "LOZENGER".

Nowadays, to my surprise, this word is completely replaced by toffees cough- drops sweet- tablets candies bla… bla… bla… which caused me to think that the word is obsolete now.

On the contrary, what surprised me, again is that the twin brother of this word- LOZENGE still has dictionary entries.

Now, I'm sitting on the fence whether to employ this word or not. Also, I can remember well that vintage children's books of those days contained the the word "lozenge"to represent the shape of rhombus. Nowadays, nobody uses this word to denote rhombus even as a synonym.

So, my questions are
(1) are these words really out-dated or
(2) If not, assuming that I used the word lozenge to denote rhombus in any of my written work, would this be deemed "JOCULAR"?

Footnote:- So (suspected to be obsolete, but not sure) are the words:- sweetmeat, tinsel, soap-tablets..

6
  • 2
    Have you looked up these words in a dictionary? Oxford Languages gives 'a rhombus or diamond shape' as the primary meaning for lozenge, so there is nothing jocular about it. Feb 16, 2023 at 12:12
  • There is nothing wrong with resurrecting a word. There are some "oldies but goodies" that need recirculation.
    – Biblasia
    Feb 16, 2023 at 12:56
  • Nothing wrong with resurrecting a word- I do agree.. @ nostalgic after all. Feb 16, 2023 at 13:57
  • Tinsel is a perfectly normal word for the sparkly stuff used in Christmas decorations. Sweetmeat is archaic. Feb 16, 2023 at 14:50
  • Tinsel sweets or candy cane...., If my memory serves me right Feb 16, 2023 at 15:14

2 Answers 2

2

As per OED, lozenger is still used but regionally:

The sweetened, medicated tablet is spelled “lozenge” and pronounced LAH-zinj in standard English, according to dictionaries in the US and the UK.

However, the Oxford English Dictionary says a variant spelling, “lozenger” (pronounced LAH-zin-jer), is present in the US and northern England.

The OED describes this variant as dialectal—that is, a regional or social variation from standard English.

The Dictionary of American Regional English says the variant is present in various parts of the US, though chiefly in the Northeast.

Although most DARE examples of the usage are from New England and the Middle Atlantic states, the regional dictionary has quite a few citations from other parts of the US, including Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, and Ohio.

The DARE editors suggest that the American usage may have crossed the pond with speakers of Scottish English and regional dialects in England. (Grammarphobia)

As for lozenge, it is not listed as obsolete by the dictionaries. This Macmillan entry says:

Today, not all cough and sore throat lozenges are made in a diamond shape, but the name remains.


As for the use of lozenge in geometry, Wikipedia explains:

The definition of lozenge is not strictly fixed, and the word is sometimes used simply as a synonym (from Old French losenge) for rhombus. Most often, though, lozenge refers to a thin rhombus—a rhombus with two acute and two obtuse angles, especially one with acute angles of 45°.

Here, Wikipedia gives a link to an article of Wolfram MathWorld. Mathworld.wolfram.com. from 2015. So the word is still used in science. However, as this Ngram will show you, the preferred term is definitely rhombus in geometry. If you click the Google books link for lozenge, you will find that most quotes are about sweets or architecture, not about geometry.

6
  • 2
    All rhombi/rhombuses have two acute and two obtuse angles, apart from squares.
    – Henry
    Feb 16, 2023 at 12:37
  • 3
    LAH as the initial syllable looks wrong in British English (although it may be correct of American English). I would pronounce the vowel as the -o- in "moth" Feb 16, 2023 at 12:41
  • Thanks, the answer seems convincing. But, it seems that lozenge is not a well- defined geometric shapes standing for rhombus. Feb 16, 2023 at 12:51
  • 1
    I've never heard "lozenger" in the US.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 17, 2023 at 1:31
  • 1
    I can attest to hearing and using "throat lozenger" frequently about 35 years ago in the US South/south of DC, but what does "LAH" mean? /lɑzɪndʒ/ or /lɔ/ or...? Not unlike caught - cot merger regionally. (Fixed phrase with throat where as now I say just lozenge.)
    – livresque
    Feb 17, 2023 at 1:32
2

When I was a kid, I'd heard folks calling a confection as "LOZENGER".

This seems to come from a phonetic spelling of the dialect pronunciation of lozenge as /ˈlɒzɪndʒə/ (lozz-in-juh). The OED has only two examples. The first has inverted commas that indicate a direct quote and the second is in direct speech and representative of the dialect in which the final 'e' is half voiced:

1860 O. W. Holmes Elsie Venner (1887) 59 Boxes containing ‘lozengers’, as they were commonly called.

1887 T. E. Brown Doctor & Other Poems 6 Somethin just to be haulin out For the kids—a lozenger or the lek.

LOZENGE still has dictionary - entries.

In the UK, lozenge is occasionally used but almost invariably refers to a medicated sweet/candy for a sore throat “Why don’t you suck a lozenge? There are some in the cupboard.”

So, my questions are (1) are these words really out- dated.

Lozenger certainly is. It was last used seriously in 1527 in J. Raine Testamenta Eboracensia V. 244 Unum le diamond vocatum a losinger. [The one that is diamond-shaped we call a lozinger.]

or (2) If not, assuming that I used the word lozenge to denote rhombus in any of my written work, would this be deemed "JOCULAR"?

This sense of lozenge is now restricted to heraldry:

  1. a. A plane rectilineal figure, having four equal sides and two acute and two obtuse angles; a rhomb, ‘diamond’. In Heraldry, such a figure used as a bearing, less elongated than the fusil n.1, and placed with its longer axis vertical.

It is not jocular at all…

4
  • If one uses rather "out- fashioned" words", regardless of their usage, native- speakers mostly don't take them serious but jocular.. Feb 16, 2023 at 13:43
  • at least in mathematics, if the same word is used. Feb 16, 2023 at 13:51
  • @user473407 - there are some words that are funny because they are out of date, and some that aren't - lozenge is one that isn't funny.
    – Greybeard
    Feb 16, 2023 at 14:07
  • In AmE (in my experience) "lozenge" also typically means something used for a sore throat, though "cough drop" is more popular.
    – alphabet
    Feb 18, 2023 at 23:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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