coffee grounds/grinds

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Wed Sep 14 17:24:10 UTC 2011

The other day someone ask me if the "correct" term is "coffee grounds" or "coffee grinds."  I was unable to answer!  I'm pretty sure I say either--and hear both.

The OED entry for "coffee grounds" is brief and insufficient.  The given definition, "The granular sediment remaining in coffee after infusion," fails to account for modern technologies like the perculator or coffee prepared by one of several methods using filters.  Of a mere three illustrative quotations at the OED entry, two illustrate the technical term "coffee-ground vomit"--misplaced from the following separate entry for "coffee-ground vomit."  The only authentic quotation is from 1764.

The OED has no entry or cross-reference for "coffee grinds," even though that term shows a substantial 290,000 raw Google hits (vs. 2,170,000 for "coffee grounds")--and a respectable 1,730 (presumably "edited") instance in Google Books and 1,550 in Google News.

Nor does the OED acknowleldge "grounds" as a separable lexeme, which it certainly is!  As is "grinds," I'd say . . . .


The American Dialect Society -

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