Wacky Word Wednesday

Wacky Word Wednesday – Pregustator

Imagine living with the constant fear of death every time you eat. In today’s edition of Wacky Word Wednesday, we will explore one of the most life-threatening jobs in the world.

quo topPregustator
[pri-GUHS-tay-tuhr]

-nounA forestaste; A person whose job is to taste food or drink before it’s served (Esp. in ancient Rome)
quo botPregustator

Pregustator, a compound of the Latin pre, “before,” and gustare, “to taste,” refers to someone who tastes food and drink before it’s served. The word gustare ultimately came from the Indo-European root geus-, “to taste” or “to choose,” which also gave us the words choice, choose, gusto, ragout, and disgust.

In ancient Egypt, Persia, and Assyria, a pregustator was sometimes called a cupbearer, a respected, high-ranking position given only to a select few throughout history. The job of cupbearer was to serve drinks at the royal table and guard kings against poison. Given the nature of the job, the cupbearers were close to and highly trusted by the rulers they served but in ancient Rome, this position was considered unfortunate and often given to a slave.

In the modern world, a pregustator is simply called a food taster, often hired by presidents and royal families. Margot Woelk, the last surviving female food taster for Adolf Hitler, recently told her story to the Telegraph, describing how she risked her life every day. Hitler had a total of 15 food tasters, all of which were young women. Woelk also revealed that he was a vegetarian and ate bland meals consisting of rice, pasta, peas, and cauliflower.

As usual, we’ve provided you with two examples using today’s word:

  • When poison was often secreted in meats and drinks and was much oftener feared, a pregustator, or a foretaster, was the most important servant in all great households. (Wordsmith)
  • My tormentors, knowing that these boys were my cupbearers and pregustators, had made arrangements with my maid-servant to give me poison. (1930, J. Stoner)
Related:  Phrontistery - Wacky Word Wednesday

Would you want to become a food taster? Or if you are one, feel free to share your experience below. We would love to hear your stories.

 

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