Gourmand and Gourmet

Commonly Confused Words

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In The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), Charles Laughton portrayed the king tearing apart a chicken, belching, and exclaiming, "Refinement's a thing of the past!" King Henry VIII was regarded as a gourmand, not a gourmet. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Although the nouns gourmand and gourmet both refer to a person who loves good food, the words have different connotations. "A gourmet is a connoisseur," says Mitchell Ivers. "A gourmand is an avid consumer." (Random House Guide to Good Writing).

Definitions

The noun gourmand refers to someone who is extremely (and often excessively) fond of eating and drinking.

A gourmet is someone with refined tastes who enjoys (and knows a lot about) fine food and drink.

As an adjective, gourmet refers to high-quality or exotic food.

Examples

  • "[A]bove all, a gourmand is one who is able to keep eating when no longer hungry, and a gourmand without a rich sense of the comic is a pathetic piggy, indeed."
    (Jim Harrison, "A Really Big Lunch." Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink, ed. by David Remnick. Random House, 2007)
     
  • "The gourmand is no fussbudget, because he spends his day not in finding ways to say no but in finding ways to say yes."
    (Robert Appelbaum, Dishing It Out. Reaktion Books, 2011)
     
  • "[S]carcity is what makes certain things valuable, even if they aren’t that good. One need only look as far as shark’s fin soup, blowfish or off-year truffles for evidence of that. Much of the demand for those dishes comes from the mindless urge toward conspicuous consumption, an act so common today, especially among the moneyed gourmands I call gastrocrats, that we sometimes forget that the term was one of social pathology when it was first coined."
    (Josh Ozersky, "Gastrocrats Beware: Luxury Foods Aren’t Worth It." Time, August 15, 2012)
  • "The old gourmet was a bit of a snob: he wed himself to France or Italy, learned to cook a single cuisine and became obsessed with importing, usually wine and cheese."
    (Mark Greif, "Get Off the Treadmill: The Art of Living Well in the Age of Plenty." The Guardian, September 23, 2016)
     
  • "Julia [Child] came out against the term 'gourmet,' which she said had lost all meaning through overuse ('We just say "good cooking"')."
    (Calvin Tomkins, "Good Cooking." Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink, ed. by David Remnick. Random House, 2007)
     

    Usage Notes

    • "Gourmet means epicure; gourmand means greedy-guts."
      (The Economist Style Guide, 10th ed. Profile Books, 2010)
       
    • "A gourmet is an epicure, a connoisseur of fine food and wine. A gourmand is not so high-toned. Anyone who is heartily interested in eating — anyone who delights in dining well — may be classified as a gourmand. A glutton is the hog who eats too much. I insert these observations chiefly to warn against advertisements for gourmet restaurants featuring gourmet menus. Such overblown beaneries are almost invariably dreadful."
      (James J. Kilpatrick, The Writer's Art. Andrews McMeel, 1984)
       
    • "[A] gourmet is a knowledgeable and fastidious epicure; a gourmand is a person who likes good food in large quantities — a gourmet who eats too much. Gourmand is often described as having contemptuous overtones that gourmet lacks. . . .

      "The meaning of gourmand is now certainly closer to gourmet than it is to glutton, but our evidence shows clearly that gourmand and gourmet are still words with distinct meanings in the bulk of their use, and are likely to remain so."
      (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Merriam-Webster, 1994)
       
    • "Gourmet, a French borrowing meaning 'a connoisseur of food and drink, a person of discriminating palate,' is much more in use in English today than its compatriot, gourmand, which sometimes means 'a big eater and drinker,' or even 'a glutton,' and sometimes simply 'a heartier sort of gourmet.' Gourmet has become a cliche for anyone with pretensions to good taste in food and drink, and the adjective today often describes any cook or any eatery thought to be better (perhaps) than indifferent. Gourmand is fading; gourmet is overused."
      (Kenneth G. Wilson, The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. Columbia University Press, 1993)


      Practice

      (a) Actor and director Orson Welles was a committed _____ who thought nothing of washing down a roasted duck and a huge porterhouse steak with three or four bottles of wine.

      (b) "For a true _____ in the first few decades of the twentieth century, Paris was the heart's home, the place that mattered, a shrine for everyone who believed that eating well was the best revenge."
      (Ruth Reichl, Remembrance of Things Paris. Modern Library, 2004)

       

      Answers to Practice Exercises: Gourmand and Gourmet

      (a) Actor and director Orson Welles was a committed gourmand who thought nothing of washing down a roasted duck and a huge porterhouse steak with three or four bottles of wine.

      (b) "For a true gourmet in the first few decades of the twentieth century, Paris was the heart's home, the place that mattered, a shrine for everyone who believed that eating well was the best revenge."
       

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      Your Citation
      Nordquist, Richard. "Gourmand and Gourmet." ThoughtCo, Nov. 16, 2017, thoughtco.com/gourmand-and-gourmet-1689565. Nordquist, Richard. (2017, November 16). Gourmand and Gourmet. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/gourmand-and-gourmet-1689565 Nordquist, Richard. "Gourmand and Gourmet." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/gourmand-and-gourmet-1689565 (accessed May 26, 2018).