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.

Jesse Sheidlower

Random House Reference