coffee grounds/grinds

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Wed Sep 14 18:58:22 UTC 2011

I got ground and grinds mixed up for years. I finally thought about it and figured it out, but it's a toughie.

One possibility for the difficulty is that past participles aren't normally nouns. That, plus the problem mentioned that "grind" is a noun (and in Hawai'i and perhaps other place, means food).

If you told me that a coffee mill is one of those smallish manual coffee grinding machines or something like that, I would readily believe you and remember it, but generally, I just use "coffee grinder." The word "mill" sounds old-fashioned to me.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

On Sep 14, 2011, at 11:46 AM, victor steinbok wrote:

> I'm with Wilson--it's "coffee grounds" only, for me. But I see another
> reason for this.
> There is a "coffee grind", but it has an entirely different meaning--it's
> the coarsness of the ground coffee prior to brewing. And "coffee grounds"
> refers to to the dregs /after/ the coffee is brewed, either the ones
> remaining behind in the filter, the coffee pot (if boiled or percolated) or
> in the coffee cup, if the liquid was not fully filtered. So, if someone
> refers to "coffee grinds", I would not cringe, but would rather inspect the
> settings on the dial for commercial coffee grinders.
> And, while we are on the subject, is anyone up for an informal survey?
> [coffee grinder] or [coffee mill] or [both, indifferently] or [both, but
> distinct]?
> I'm in the fourth category but know people in each of the other three.
> VS-)
> On Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 2:01 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
>> On Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 1:24 PM, Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at> wrote:
>>> "coffee grinds"
>> That one is new to me. I'd "prescribe" - to coin a term - "coffee
>> grounds" without hesitation.

The American Dialect Society -

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