[Ads-l] "Cold meat"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 13 03:37:04 UTC 2019

The OED has "cold meat". To me "cold cuts" usually means sliced meats.
The OED definition does specify whether the meat is sliced. Pre-sliced
meat may be a relatively recent innovation. So the definition of "cold
meats" may have shifted over time to accommodate pre-sliced meat and
unsliced meat.

[Begin OED excerpt]
cold meat, n.
Frequency (in current use):
Etymology: cold adj. 2b.
 1. Cooked meat that has become cold; hence sometimes used to connote
inferior fare. Also attributive.
1598   Health to Gentlemanly Profession Seruingmen sig. H   The
remayne of these cold boyled meates..which may well be called colde
1795   tr. K. P. Moritz Trav. Eng. 240   I dined here on cold meat and sallad.
1816   J. Austen Emma III. vi. 88   When you are tired of eating
strawberries in the garden, there shall be cold meat in the house.
. . .
2. slang. A corpse; corpses. Chiefly attributive, as cold-meat box
(coffin), cold-meat cart (hearse), cold-meat party (funeral or wake),
cold-meat train (funeral train).

1788   F. Grose Dict. Vulgar Tongue (ed. 2) sig. G3   A dead wife is
the best cold meat in a man's house.
[End OED excerpt]

On Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 8:26 PM Ben Yagoda <byagoda at udel.edu> wrote:
> I could use some help in solving a dialectal mystery. My wife (born 1952 in Fall River MA) refers to sliced ham, turkey, etc. that you get from the deli counter as “cold meat,” where I (born in New York City roughly the same time) would say “cold cuts.” I have never heard “cold meat” anywhere else, and she always told me it was a regionalism. I consulted Dictionary of American Regional English and found nothing for "cold meat.” Recently, at my urging, she asked the Facebook group of her high school class if anyone else said “cold meat.” No one had heard of it. That led us to hypothesize that she had gotten it either from her mother (a native of Chicago) or her father (born in Italy and migrated to the U.S. at 19).
> My next step was to pose the question on Twitter. The majority of people (including Masachusettsans and Chicagoans) had never encountered “cold meat.” There were three exceptions: one person each from Australia, central Pennsylvania, and Scotland.
> That’s where matters stood until tonight, when I was watching episode 2 of the HBO series “Watchmen.” Characters are watching a movie, set in 1938, called “American Hero Story.” There is an exterior shot of a New York grocery store, the sign of which says: “GROCERIES*FRESH PRODUCE*COLD MEATS.” I put a screen shot on Twitter: https://twitter.com/byagoda/status/1205279178913931264
> Any insight or knowledge about “cold meat”?
> Ben
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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