Word of the Day – Garnish

Word of the Day : April 28, 2020


verb GAHR-nish


Did You Know?

Although we now mostly garnish food, the general application of the “decorate” meaning is older. The link between embellishing an object or space and adding a little parsley to a plate isn’t too hard to see, but how does the verb’s sense of “garnishee,” which refers to the taking of debtors’ wages, fit in? The answer lies in the word’s Anglo-French root, garnir, which means “to give notice, warning, or legal summons” in addition to “to equip or decorate.” Before wages were garnished, the debtor would be served with a legal summons or warning. The legal sense of garnish now chiefly implies the taking of the wages, but it is rooted in the action of furnishing the warning.


“[Mariah] Carey pioneered featuring rappers on pop hits, and to date she has garnished 56 of her tracks with guest verses.” — Billboard.com, 25 Apr. 2019

“Every day, problems that have fundamentally legal solutions—like a debt collector wrongfully garnishing hard-earned wages—derail the lives of people who are already struggling to make ends meet.” — David Zapolsky, Fortune, 18 June 2019

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day