1/23/07

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

Do you know what a vegetable is, scientifically speaking? Don't worry - neither does anybody else. Apparently it's a purely cultural and culinary distinction. Sadly, that means all the times my siblings and I vied to be the most correct in determing what was a fruit and what was a vegetable were (wait for the bad pun) fruitless - they can be both. I learned a few interesting things about the etymology of the word vegetable though - it comes from the Latin verb vegetare, to animate, and related adjectives vegetus, lively, sprightly and vegetabilis, animating. Pretty ironic that we now use "vegetate" and "veg out" to mean exactly the opposite. That's quite the radical semantic shift.