The other day, I came across a word I had never seen before:
I did a quick Google check and saw that it actually had over 300,000 search results!
After going through a few of the sites that came up, I realized that by “pasteries”, the author meant “pastries”, those yummy, sweet, buttery, flaky goodies you find at your local bakery.
As I mentioned, I’d never seen that spelling before and I did a bit of sleuthing. Even though Google wanted to me to search for “pastries” instead, “pasteries” seems to be a fairly popular spelling of the word.
In the Google ngram above, we see that until the early 20th century, “pasteries” as uncommon, but in the 1920s, it started to take off until the 1940, when it took a nosedive, It saw a resurgence in the 1970, then dropped again in the 1980s. It hasn’t recovered since.
Interestingly enough, “pastries” had a similar ebb and flow in popularity, rising until the 1940s, dropping, then rising again starting in the 1970s (see below). Of course, unlike “pasteries”, this spelling continued rising in popularity since then.
The “pasteries” spelling isn’t even new; I found a instance of it going back to the 18th century — 1778, to be exact. Here is a quote from page 221 in 10th volume of Dramatick Works of Beaumont and Fletcher. This is the beginning of scene 2 of the play “The Woman Hater”, and the character Lazarillo is speaking:
Go, run, search, pry in every nook and angle
O’th’ kitchens, larders, and pasteries
Know what meat’s boil’d, bak’d, roast, stew’d, fried, or sous’d,
At this dinner, to be serv’d directly, or indirectly
Another intriguing tidbit is that “pastry” — and “pastery” by association — comes from the word “paste” which was a French word that used to mean dough (similar to the Italian “pasta”). In a way, “pastery” makes sense as a spelling.
So, when I comes across the “pasteries” spelling in the future, I’ll think twice before correcting it. If you decide to use it, be aware that your spellchecker won’t recognize it, and probably your copyeditor won’t either.
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