New Food Words in the Dictionary

(Photo: Leo Reynolds)

OMG, did you hear? The Oxford English Dictionary has revised its latest edition to include new “words” such as FYI, BFF and LOL. Yes, let’s all take a moment and ROFL at that for a moment. What you might not know is the esteemed book also included some new food words. Some of them are under-the-radar food phrases, while many are probably already in your daily vernacular, which makes me wonder why they weren’t already in the dictionary, I mean WTF.

Keep reading to see some of our favorite food terms that are now officially legit, in alphabetical order.

Banh Mi

We were talking about the banh mi back in 2009, and by now it’s become so popular that it’s being called the new cupcake and there are even competitions dedicated to this once humble Vietnamese dish. This is clearly not your average sandwich so you had better get used to it.

Pronunciation:/?bän m?, /

“a Vietnamese snack consisting of a baguette (traditionally baked with both rice and wheat flour) filled with a variety of ingredients, typically including meat, pickled vegetables, and chili peppers:along with classic banh mi, there are refreshing cold noodles and exceptional bowls of soup.”

Eton Mess

Eton isn’t just home to the humble beginnings of one future King of England; it’s also the namesake of this ambiguous mess of ingredients. I think I’ve lived in the U.S. too long because I had no idea what this English specialty was let alone understand its definition. So I thank the good folks over at OED for explaining it for me.

“a dessert consisting of a rough mixture of whipped cream, pieces of meringue, and fruit, typically strawberries.”

(Photo: Garrettc)


Photo: LacKac

No longer just a dish composed of lamb, many have adapted the kleftiko as a style of cooking rather than the ingredient itself.  Either way, if you’ve ever eaten at a Greek restaurant odds are you’ve had this tasty morsel of meat. 

Pronunciation:/?kleftik?, /
“a Greek dish consisting of lamb marinated with lemon juice and herbs and cooked slowly in a sealed container.”
(Photo: LacKac)


If you were thinking momo is a trendy restaurant in the Lower East Side, well you’re wrong. Momo is in fact a steamed dumpling that is popular enough to have its own place in the OED. What’s different from a traditional steamed dumpling, I have no idea, nor do I care — steamed dumplings are delicious whatever you want to call them.

“(in Tibetan cooking) a steamed dumpling filled with meat or vegetables.”
(Photo: laurat)

Muffin Top

Just for shits and giggles I had to include this in the list. For the record I think the muffin top is not solely a female affliction. I’ve seen many a male friend (me included) who is the not-so proud owner of a little extra fat around the waist.

“a roll of fat visible above the top of a pair of women’s tight-fitting low-waisted pants.”

(Photo: Practical Fashionista)

Nom Nom

Now this is just ridic (is that a new word, because it should be). Nom nom, really? I’ve never heard of this term prior to researching this piece so I’d love to know if it is something commonly used enough to be worthy for inclusion in a dictionary?

“used to express pleasure at eating, or at the prospect of eating, delicious food: chili and cornbread for dinner, nom nom!”

(Photo: Peyton C. / Cutest Eaters)


Thanks to you and your late night drunk food binging we now have the inclusion of 7-Eleven and their crap to add to our lexicon: the taquito. Other than seeing them continually turn on warm rollers I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in an actual restaurant, never mind eaten one.

“a crisp-fried Tex-Mex snack.”

Ten Second Rule

We’ve all done it so go on and admit it now. There’s one bite left of that delicious brownie and it falls to the floor — need not fret, the OED has excused you of your bad habit by introducing the 3, 5 or 10 second rule to your vocabulary, however long you favor. In the interest of full disclosure I do not condone any second rule when cooking for friends. Sorta.

“which allows for the eating of a delicious morsel that has fallen to the floor, provided that it is retrieved within the specified period of time.”

(Photo: The Truth About All)

So ES-ers, what food words do you think need to be included in next year’s Oxfrod English Dictionary update”

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  • erica April 5, 2011  

    i know people who say “nom nom” in everyday conversation, inexplicably annoying me to greater and greater heights as i try not to say anything b/c no one, not even me, understand why it bugs me so badly.

  • Vicki April 5, 2011  

    My kid says nom nom on a regular basis. Also, taquitos are really good if you make them yourself or get them from a restaurant – Olvera St. in LA has the best in the world.

  • Emily April 5, 2011  

    I’m with Erica, I hear/see (in the case of FB statuses and what not) the use of “nom nom” fairly often, and for an inexplicable reason it always annoys the shit out of me.

    Taquitos, on the other hand, I welcome to the Oxford English Dictionary with open arms.

  • BS April 5, 2011  

    I’m fine with both. Taquitos are nom nom as far as I’m concerned.

  • gansie April 5, 2011  

    consider me in the i fucking hate “nom nom” camp

  • dan April 6, 2011  

    The ones that annoy me are Banh mi and Momo, cause they are words in other languages. Do we need to start adding entries for every food item we eat from other countries? Is there an entry for vindaloo or prig pow? Also that definition for banh mi is a little shakey. why does it start rambleing on about noodles and soup? what does that have to do with banh mi? and since when is a banh mi a snack?

  • Lindsey Cota April 6, 2011  

    From my experience, Nom’s come in 3’s. Like- nom nom nom… or nom^3 if your a geek.

    Nom’s are frequently accompanied by pinched fingers near the mouth, miming the eating of food (a sandwich for example).

    If you pinch your fingers near your mouth and say nom nom nom then you are signifying that something is extremely delicious or enticing.

    Nom’s can also be used for cute or adorable things, like babies, puppies, and elephants.

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