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A.Word.A.Day--chop suey

Pronunciation RealAudio

chop suey (CHOP SOO-ee) noun

1. A dish consisting of mixed vegetables, meat pieces, etc.

2. A miscellany.

verb tr.

To defeat, crush, chop to pieces.

[From Cantonese tsap seui (mixed bits).]

According to many popular stories, it's an American dish, improvised by a Chinese cook in the US. However, according to The Oxford Companion to Food (which quotes The Food of China, which, in turn, quotes Hong Kong Surgeon, an autobiography), the likely origin is, indeed, Cantonese.

"She was Mrs. Kessler and not about to get chop-sueyed by some misinformed waiter." John Kessler; Dinner Conversation; The Atlanta Journal and Constitution; Jul 4, 2003.

"Remo cooperates and is directed to a home, ostensibly to assassinate an official. Instead, he encounters elderly Korean martial arts master, [Chiun], who dodges bullets and makes chop suey of him." Paul Willistein; Remo Williams: A Flawed Mix of Rambo, Bond And Bruce Lee; The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania); Oct 12, 1985.

This week's theme: words originating in Cantonese.


Rewards and punishments are the lowest form of education. -Chuang-Tzu, philosopher (4th c. BCE)

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