Pommes frites

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Jan 22 23:23:37 UTC 2012

On Jan 22, 2012, at 11:49 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Pommes frites
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 1/22/2012 02:06 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>> It appears you're partly right. The OED requires two cross-links to
>> find a definition, and both have additional meanings and links,
>> making it quite confusing. After reading them three times, I get
>> that definition.
>> However, the cross-link from "pommes frites" goes to "potato chip"
>> which is defined as both "chip"and North America "potato crisp." So
>> I think "pommes frites" is being defined as both.
> Thus the OED is using here the British terminology to explain:  (1)
> "pommes frites" is the British "chip";  (2) N.A. "potato chip" is the
> British "potato crisp".  I agree, it's confusing.

Unless "pommes frites" means in the UK what we call "potato chips," I think there is a bifurcating path that leads to one unintended definition. I honestly have trouble processing logic puzzles like this, so here are the definitions from the OED (I haven't bothered including "French fries"):

pommes frites
Potato chips (see potato chip n. (a) at potato n. Compounds 2). Cf. French fries n. at French adj. and n. Special uses 2.

potato chip
(a) = chip n.1 2b   (now rare);  (b) N. Amer. and Austral. =potato crisp n. at Compounds 1a(b).

b. Cookery. pl. (rarely sing.). A thin irregular slice of a fruit, etc. spec. fried pieces of potato, usu. oblong in shape; = French fried potatoes n., French fries n. at French adj. and n. Special uses 2; also (chiefly U.S.) = crisp n. 7. Cf.chip-potatoes n. at Compounds 2, fish and chips (fish n.1 Compounds 2b).

potato crisp

If you travel from "potato chip" to "potato crisp," there is no link to "crisp," but looking "crisp" up yields:
7. In full potato crisp. A thin sliver of potato fried until crisp and eaten cold. Usu. in pl. of such food produced commercially.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

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