Dinner table with candle

Learn a new word, and suddenly you see it everywhere. I ran into more than a few new and strange words in the behemoth I just finished, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. But the one that most jumped out at me was prandial.

Prandial and postprandial: relating to a meal and after a meal. Dated to 1820. Usually used when being stuffy . . . or jokingly stuffy. (Or is it stuffed . . . or jokingly stuffed?)

So there I was, thinking that good ol’ DFW was using some delightfully obscure word just to annoy—I mean, delight the reader, when suddenly prandial pops up in an unrelated article I was reading! This makes me wonder, (1) Has the word been popular for many decades, with me somehow going about my days in a bubble of embarrassing ignorance? (2) Has the word gained in popularity because of the popularity of DFW’s novel? or (3) Is the word truly obscure and my finding it in a mag a bizarre and unlikely event?

I really want to know—but really, dear, there’s no need for you to type your response on an empty stomach.

Now that you’ve eaten—do you know the words prandial and postprandial? Do you recall specific encounters with them? And why is there no preprandial?

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