Smörgåsbord - Etymology

Etymology

The Swedish word smörgåsbord consists of the words smörgås (open-faced sandwich) and bord (table). Smörgås in turn consists of the words smör (butter, cognate with English smear) and gås (goose). Gås literally means goose, but later referred to the small pieces of butter that formed and floated to the surface of cream while it was churned. These pieces reminded the old Swedish peasants of fat geese swimming to the surface. The small butter pieces were just the right size to be placed and flattened out on bread, so smörgås came to mean buttered bread. In Sweden, the term breda smörgåsar (to butter open-faced sandwiches) has been used since at least the 16th century.

In English and also in Scandinavian languages, the word smörgåsbord (or in English, more usually without diacritics as smorgasbord) refers loosely to any buffet with a variety of dishes — not necessarily with any connection to the Swedish Christmas traditions discussed in this article. In an extended sense, the word is used to refer to any situation which invites patrons to select whatever they wish among lots of pleasant things, such as the smorgasbord of university courses, books in a bookstore, etc.

The term smörgåsbord should not be confused with the somewhat similarly-named Danish smørrebrød.

Read more about this topic:  Smörgåsbord

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