Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Does this dictionary make me look fat?
“She’s not like my other daughters,” he said. “She’s zaftig.”
This was a stranger speaking; a table companion at a social event. He was describing his third child who was about to enter the room.
My eyebrows rose. “Don’t let her hear you say that,” I said. “She won’t be happy with that description.”
“Why? What’s wrong with zaftig?” he asked. “Doesn’t it mean curvy? Maybe I don’t know my Yiddish.”
“No, you’re right,” my own daughter, Jill, interjected. “Zaftig means curvy.”
I don’t know about you. But if someone called me “zaftig” my brain would immediately go to “fat.”
To clear up the matter, and to have a tech topic for today's post, I turned to dictionaries available on websites and iPhone apps. Let's see what they have to say on the subject.
1. My Mac OS X (Operating System 10) Version 10.5.8 makes it easy to find a definition. Click on Spotlight -- it's the blue magnifying glass at the far right side of your computer screen -- and type in the word, “zaftig.” Choose the option of going straight to the New Oxford American Dictionary and Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus. This is what that prestigious reference book says, “zaftig |ˈzäftig; -tik| (also zoftig). Adjective informal, (of a woman) having a full, rounded figure; plump. ORIGIN 1930s: Yiddish, from German saftig ‘juicy.’”
2. On the Firefox browser, use your Google search box. Type: zaftig=def. We found: “buxom: (of a female body) healthily plump and vigorous.”
3. Safari's browser has a neat trick, called The Floating Dictionary. To find the definition of our word, or any word you’re curious about, simply press on your keyboard, Command+Control+D while hovering your mouse over the word. A little window pops up with the definition. Here’s what the floater has to say: “zaf·tig [zahf-tik, -tig] adjective, Slang. (of a woman) having a pleasantly plump figure. full-bodied; well-proportioned.” Evidently, Floater uses the Oxford Dictionary, too.
4. My favorite iPhone App is Dictionary.com, which includes a thesaurus, is free, has 500,000 new words and definitions, and an English and Spanish word-of-the day. It's definition for "zaftig" is the same as above.
5. Ultralingua is an app I purchased earlier for my iPhone. It cost $9.99, has 300,000 words, none of which was “zaftig.” Thumbs down.
6. I was excited to see a Yiddish dictionary as an app. I paid the $1.99, and only after downloading, did I learn it had no definition for “zaftig.” And you call yourself, Yiddish! But, I did find, “a broch tzu dir” which means, “a curse on you.” Perfect for wasting my $1.99.
7. Finally, there’s Urbandictionary.com, a website, which along with a dictionary, sells mugs, magnets, mousepads, and t-shirts imprinted with any word of choice. (The photo that tops this post is from a t-shirt purchased at Zaftigs Delicatessen in Brookline, MA.)
Here’s Urbandictionary’s view of our word, “A word of Yiddish origin used to describe a chubby girl, but in a very good way. However, a word of caution: even though it's a kindhearted word, and a euphemism for fat, your wife/girlfriend probably won't feel the same way. She might, but if you call her zaftig, you're more than likely to get a black eye or have to stand outside the bathroom with tissues, depending on the kind of girl she is.” See? That's what I said!
Now that you have my seven tech options for dictionaries, you can check them out to find your favorite. You're velcome.