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Vittle vs vital

  • Vittle and vital are two words that are sometimes confused, as they are close in spelling and pronunciation. We will examine the definitions of the words vittle and vital, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.


     

    A vittle is food or an item that affords sustenance. It may be anything that one may eat, whether it is vegetables, cakes, meats, oats, dairy, maple syrup, seafood, corn, pasta or quinoa. The nutritional value is not considered, only whether it is possible to eat the item. Most often, the plural form vittles is used. Vittles is a variant spelling of victuals, a word with an interesting etymology. Victuals came into the English language around 1300, from the Old French word vitaille, which means food. The original spelling in English was  vitaylle. Then, during the Renaissance, academics went about changing the spelling of certain words in order to align them more closely with the spelling of Latin words. Vitaylles became victuals, in order to align the spelling more closely with the Latin word victualia. Interestingly, the c in victuals has always been silent, and the correct pronunciation of the word is vittles. Today, the spelling vittles is usually reserved for portraying people speaking in dialect, the intention being to show the ignorance of the speaker. Note that the correct pronunciation of victuals and vittles is the same, a fact that many people do not know. Other words that gained a silent c around the time of the Renaissance are the words sisoures, which became scissors, and the word endite, which became the word indict.

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    Vital is an adjective that describes something that is absolutely essential, something that is indispensable. Vital may also describe someone who is full of life or energetic. In medicine, vitals is an abbreviation of the term vital signs, meaning the measurements of the functioning of important organs like the heart and lungs. The word vital is derived from the Latin word vitalis, meaning belonging to life. Note that vital is pronounced with a long i.

    Examples

    The food portion of the celebration gets under way with the Country Vittles Dinner Buffet, which will be served from 5-7 p.m. Friday at Hatfields in the Mountainlair. (The Dominion Post)

    That Massachusetts city is a few miles away from Germany but, seeing there is license taken with attaching nationality or locales to our vittles, we can pretend today’s dessert belongs on the table with last week’s German-style pork and kraut. (The Charleston Gazette-Mail)

    Find succulent victuals from local and regional purveyors including local eateries and breweries at the food court; street mistrals singing seafaring tavern songs, sword fight demonstrations, pirate magic shows and skits, merchandise commemorating this special year and an expanded living history encampment on the Berkley Manor grounds. (The Coastland Times)

    Similarly, we should be concerned about a loss of vital services in those same neighbourhoods simply to satisfy the demand for residential development and the desire of property developers to generate large profits. (The Irish Times)

    That they now have Carter on their side is vital for the champions of voting rights in Georgia. (The Nation)


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