Sun Jun 27 19:12:11 UTC 1999

Merriam-Webster doesn't seem to think the etymology of pastrami is
particularly obscure.

[Yiddish _pastrame_, fr Rom _pastrama_ pressed and cured meat]

The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology is a little more uncertain:

... 1940, in Groucho Marx's letters, American English, borrowed from
Yiddish _pastrame_ , from Rumanian _pastrama_, probably from modern
Greek _pastono_ I salt, from classical Greek _pastos_ sprinkled with
salt, salted, from _passein_ to sprinkle; see paste.  The English
spelling in _-mi_ was probably influenced by _salami_.  Compare also
_salami_ for semantic development.
It has also been suggested that the Rumanian word came from dialectal
Turkish _pastirma_, a variant of _basdirma_ dried meat, from _basmak_
to press.

David Barnhart
Barnhart at highlands.com

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