The oth­er day, I came across a word I had nev­er seen before:

Pas­ter­ies

I did a quick Google check and saw that it actu­al­ly had over 300,000 search results!

Pasteries search results on Google

Pas­ter­ies search results on Google

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.

Usage of the word pasteries since the 19th century

Usage of the word pas­ter­ies since the 19th cen­tu­ry

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.

Usage of the word pastries since the 20th century

Usage of the word pas­tries since the 20th cen­tu­ry

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.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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