Tartar or tartare

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Tartar and tartare are two words that are spelled similarly and are also pronounced similarly, but mean two different things. We will look at the definitions of tartar and tartare, the origins of these words and their use in a few example sentences.

Tartar is an interesting word that refers to many different things. The first definition of tartar is a crusty deposit that builds up on teeth. Generally, tartar must be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. This meaning of tartar first appeared at the beginning of the 1800s, probably derived from an older meaning of tartar which is the substance left behind after wine fermentation. This substance is refined into an ingredient known as cream of tartar, which is used to make baking powder. When the word is capitalized as in Tartar, it refers to the people in the army of Genghis Khan, a group who came from central Asia and included Mongols and Turks. In this sense, tartar may also be used figuratively to mean someone fierce. The term tartar sauce also comes from the ethnic name of Tartars, though the sauce first appeared in the mid-1800s.

Tartare is a food term that describes beef, horse meat or fish that has been finely minced, shaped into a patty and served raw. The dish is usually served with a raw egg or a special sauce. Tartare dishes are not named after the Tartars, but after the French sauce that was served with fish or meat, à la tartare, an early type of tartar sauce.


Keigley says tartar buildup, a red line along the gum line or broken teeth are good reasons to consult your vet to assess what is needed, including whether professional dental cleaning is appropriate. (The Orange County Register)

There are also a large number of prisoners from Crimea, including Oleksandr Kolchenko, Oleg Sentsov and many Crimean Tartars, who have been given astonishingly long sentences. (New Eastern Europe Magazine)

The “crispy fish burger,” really a fillet of flaky buttermilk-brined cod, is crusted in crunchy panko and topped with tartar sauce and malt vinegar slaw. (The Village Voice)

A Quebec waiter who served salmon tartare to a customer with a severe food allergy won’t be prosecuted for his mistake, ending a criminal case that stirred debate on restaurants’ duty to protect their patrons in an age of growing food reactions. (The Globe and Mail)