Date: Tue, 2 Jan 1996 09:09:54 -0500
From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM
Subject: Re: Gumbo file'
The dictionaries I have at home (Webster's Collegiate 1973, OED 1 with
supplement, Longman Dict. of Contemporary English) don't list
file' (the ingredient of gumbo, made of sassafras root if I'm not
mistaken). Nor does the Nouveau Petit Larousse Illustre'. What
is its etymology? Is it a French loan in English?
According to the Random House Webster's College Dictionary:
LaF; lit., twisted, ropy, stringy (perh. orig. applied to
dishes thickened with the powder, ptp. of F _filer_; see
FILE (which is taken back to OF 'to wind or spin thread',
with Latin roots appropriately given)
The other current college dictionaries give similar origins.
And it's made from the leaves, not the root, of sassafras, BTW.
Random House Reference
jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]panix.com