How To Mince Your Words With Mincemeat And Minced Meat

Mince Your Words

When you mince your words, you are not getting to the point, or you are speaking indirectly or vaguely.

We use the expression in the negative form mostly. You might tell someone to stop mincing words and speak more clearly.

But we generally associate the word mince with food when we grind, hash or chop into tiny pieces.

It leads me to two of my favorite mince words and a little bit of grammar.

Mince and minced as a mass noun and adjective

Forgive me if I’m about to mince my words here.

But I’ll try to get to the point as quickly as possible.

Mince is usually a verb, but it can also be a part of a mass noun, as in the word mincemeat.

More common is to use mince as an adjective with minced beef, minced garlic, or minced chicken.

In the US, ground beef or chicken is sometimes the equivalent of minced.

However, according to this article on Home Cook World, there is a difference between minced and ground.

Ground meat is emulsified meat and fat. Minced meat, on the other hand, is skeletal-muscle meat that’s chopped finely.

Apart from this technical difference, you could say that the words are almost interchangeable, except when we use minced meat and mincemeat.

You might want to add these two words to your list of confusing words in English.

 

What is mincemeat?

Homemade Mincemeat

Surprisingly, there is no meat at all in mincemeat.

It is typically British and is often prepared to make Christmas pies and desserts.

The ingredients are usually a mixture of currants, raisins, sugar, apples, candied peel, spices, and suet. The mixture is generally baked in pastry.

So why is the word meat in it?

According to the history of the recipe, English recipes from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries describe a fermented mixture of meat and fruit used as a pie filling.

However, by the 19th century, the meat had disappeared from the recipe in favor of it becoming purely a dessert.

But yes, the name remained the same.

There is one more interesting use for this word.

The expression to make mincemeat of someone or something means to defeat decisively in a fight, contest, or argument.

So be careful if you use it, and be sure to use mincemeat and not minced meat.

 

What is minced meat?

Minced or ground meat

Yes, you know what it is.

But if you do a Google image search for mincemeat, you will often find images similar to the one above.

That means that a lot of people think that the two words are interchangeable.

But it is also a mistake many writers can make if they are not on the ball.

Just remember that minced meat is all meat in two words, and if it’s in one word, mincemeat is all fruit.

 

Homonyms, homophones, and grammar

Words that sound the same are so easy to get wrong in writing.

You would never think about the difference when you speak.

But in writing, you can make so many simple grammar or spelling mistakes if you don’t check thoroughly.

Yes, mincemeat and minced meat sound almost exactly the same. So be careful if or when you use these two words.

 

Summary

Even though I tried not to mince my words in this short article, I may have strayed from the point at times.

But it is always worthwhile adding a little to your grammar and spelling knowledge.

I have covered many of these in earlier articles, including peeked and piqued and past and passed.

There are many more that can be a trap. So never rely on what you think is right.

Always check your word usage. Yes, a grammar checker can help sometimes.

But don’t think you can depend on automated correction entirely.

You can call it old-fashioned, but a dictionary is usually the best way to ensure you get a word or expression correct.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

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