20 January 2007

Word of the Day: Beeves

I've been reading Michael Pollan's book, An Omnivore's Dilemma, and scratching my head at his use of "beeve". I could figure out what he means from the context, but it's peculiar enough (to me anyway) that I finally looked it up.

In addition to being the meat from a cow/steer/bull, a beef IS a cow/steer/bull. The plural of a beef is beeves. Granted, it's archaic. But odd, no? Especially because Pollan uses the singular back-formation "beeve" to refer to a single cow/steer/bull.

And just in case you were wondering, the meat of a pig is called pork, but "the pork" is not an archaic equivalent to "the pig". The pork is something that gets doled out in Washington and Albany.