Q: animal "produce"?

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Mon Nov 24 17:32:18 UTC 2008

On Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 08:47:59AM -0800, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
> there are various conflicting categorizations and labels here.  as Ron
> Butters noted, for ordinary vegetarians, who often say that they
> "don't eat meat", the "meat" label covers the full FLESH category in
> our previous discussion (meat proper, poultry, and seafood, taken
> together).  this way of using "meat" is not infrequently the source of
> confusion; you tell someone that a friend "doesn't eat meat", and this
> person then serves your friend fish -- because, after all, "fish isn't
> meat".  (i've learned to use "vegetarian" in such circumstances.)
> that brings me to pescetarians, who avoid meat proper and poultry, but
> eat seafood.  so here's a BROAD MEAT category (non-sea flesh), which
> plays another role in our culture, at least for those who are familiar
> with religious bans on "meat" on fridays or during Lent.  fish,
> however, was fine, and meals on "meatless" days tended to involve
> eggs, cheese, or fish.  "meat" here denotes BROAD MEAT.

I note that in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
(online and latest printings; not sure when this was added,
though it was publicized at the time), the definition of
_pescetarian_ is "a vegetarian whose diet includes fish".
This is, of course, wrong, as a glance at the (several steps
necessary to get to the ultimate) definition of _vegetarian_
makes clear; one who eats fish is not a vegetarian.

This suggests, to me at least, that the number of editors at
Merriam who reviewed this must have all felt that "fish" does
not equal "meat". I find it hard to imagine that an editor
defining, say, the invented[1] "beefetarian" would have
written "a vegetarian whose diet includes beef", rather than
"one who chiefly follows a vegetarian diet but also eats
beef", the equivalent of which should have been used for

[1] Yes, I know there are a handful of Googlits, but you know
what I mean. These are also in a different sense than what I'm

Jesse Sheidlower

P.S. I pointed this out to an editor at Merriam, and
apparently several people got in touch with the same point;
they're correcting the entry.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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