This week’s word is a tricky one because of its pronunciation, but I’ll save that for last.

The etymology comes to us through Middle English from Old French: vitaille meaning food, nourishment, or provisions. The spelling, though, changed to more closely approximate the Late Latin victualia (provisions). That word evolved from the Latin victus (nourishment or that which sustains life) which came from vivere (to live).

So victuals has evolved in language from its root of “to live” through to the modern concepts of nourishment and food.

Have you seen the connection yet? If you pronounce the word correctly, it comes out sounding the same as vittles, a common phrase here in the Southern U.S. for food. In fact, vittles was the common spelling and a direct descendant of vitaille, while the spelling victuals was probably influenced by the old Latin as a more sophisticated word.

So spell it however you want, but say it vittles.

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