Date: Tue, 2 Jan 1996 09:09:54 -0500 From: Jesse T Sheidlower 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