Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Flavedo

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The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is flavedo. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Flavedo refers to the colored outer layer of the rind of a citrus fruit.

// The lime’s flavedo is full of essential oils that add a distinctive, earthy tang to desserts, drinks, and plenty of savory dishes, too.

FLAVEDO in Context

“Cut citrus should always be refrigerated to prevent microbial overgrowth that could make you sick. One study that investigated the risk of foodborne illness from lemon and lime wedges commonly served with beverages at restaurants found that salmonella can survive on the flavedo (i.e., the zesty part of the peel) of lemons and limes for 24 hours at room temperature. Conversely, storing the wedges on ice or in the fridge decreased bacterial growth.” — Matthew Zuras, Epicurious.com, 7 Apr. 2023

Did You Know?

Based on its definition, you’d be forgiven for thinking flavedo is a combination of flavor and bravado—if any category of food can be said to embody “blustering swaggering conduct,” it’s sharp, assertive citrus. But flavedo instead comes from the New Latin word flāvēdō, meaning “yellow color,” the word’s etymology pointing to the shiny yellow rinds of the lemons you see in the grocery store. A citrus fruit’s flavedo (that is, its peel or rind) clings to its albedo, albedo referring to the pith—the whitish, spongy inner part of the rind of a citrus fruit. (Latin albēdō means “whiteness, white color.”) While flavor may seem like a likely relation of flavedo, the two have distinct Latin sources: flavor traces back not to flāvēdō but to Latin flatus meaning “breath,” or “the act of blowing,” a word which we are obliged to inform you also gave us another (indirectly) food-related word: flatulent.

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