Lozenge
Posted: 21 April 2011 01:24 AM   [ Ignore ]
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In my childhood days it meant the hard sugar candies that came in various shapes, often cubic, rhomboid or headstone-shaped but as often spherical and sometimes cylindrical too.  In Bengali they were all called lojens (law-gens) or laben-choosh (choosh, incidentally is a Bengali verb that means to suck). I still see them in school tuck shops and general stores counters, displayed colourfully in large, transparent jars. Bengali for sweets is mishiti but that word was reserved for typical local sweets made mostly from milk solids and/or flour.
We were also taught, in a different context altogether, that the English words sugar and sugar candy had come – on three removes at least – from Samskrta śarkarā and śarkarākhanda. Sugar itself is chini (of/from China, Chinese) in Bengali because the well-refined white microcrystals used to be imported from that wonderful country. Incidentally, chilli is lankā in Bengali; this New World curiosity was first brought into Bengal by the Portuguese from modern Srilanka.
But when and where did sugar candies get the lozenge tag?

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Posted: 21 April 2011 02:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=lozenge seems to know the answer.

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Posted: 21 April 2011 06:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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If memory serves, the term “lozenge” refers to the shape.  Flat, long and with corners.  Pharmacology was where the term came from in my recollection.

[Edit: The Douglas Harper link above seems to jibe with this recollection somewhat.]

[ Edited: 21 April 2011 07:13 AM by sobiest ]
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Posted: 24 April 2011 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Posted by sobiest 21 April 2011
... the term “lozenge” refers to the shape.  Flat, long and with corners.

That was my impression too. But there were exceptions in the realm of sweet-makers. So I said “… hard sugar candies that came in various shapes, often cubic, rhomboid or headstone-shaped but as often spherical and sometimes cylindrical too...” in my first post. And I think that there’s more to what Etymonline says. You may be right, sobiest, for I seem to recall, albeit faintly, some apothecarial connection but can’t put my finger on it. Incidentally, European oral medicines were usually liquids (potions) or powders in the days of yore. Solid medicines with fixed geometry (pills etc) were relatively late entrants.
Can someone help, please?

[ Edited: 24 April 2011 10:34 PM by Aniruddha ]
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Posted: 25 April 2011 03:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I could easily see the term lozenge being applied to certain candies by virtue of the candy’s shape and then being applied to other similar candies of different shapes.  Being easily able to see does not, however, make for good etymology.

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Posted: 25 April 2011 07:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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For what little this is worth, I recall when I first investigated the term, “lozenge.” In New England, as a child, in the 1960’s, the term “lozenge” appeared in my lexicon as a generic term referring to a single piece of medicine such as a “cough drop.” The term applied also to some hard candies but with some implied medicinal value.  In my mind’s eye, “lozenges” were small, colorfully transparent, flat with definite sides and corners, and flavored strongly, sometimes sweetly.  The taste of horehound comes to mind. 

In the 1970’s I ran across the term “lozenge” in a work of fiction.  The author used the phrase, “lozenge of light.” I thought this was a novel use of the term so I looked it up.  I came away with the understanding that the term referred to the properties of the shape I understood “lozenges” to have.  This is what I recall and memory certainly fades. 

Interestingly, in New England at that time, we (children, especially) referred to all soft-drinks with the generic term “tonic,” as in, “What would you like to drink?” and the response, “I’ll have a tonic.” That term also appears to me to have similar medicinal connotation.  It was only when I become less parochially restricted that I discovered the rest of the world considered my use of “tonic” to be quaint and served mainly to pigeon-hole me as a “Yankie,” south of the Mason-Dixon line.

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Posted: 26 April 2011 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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An interesting conversation concerning a potential etymology for “lozenge” has taken place at:

Old-Irish_L

Below, is a brief excerpt from the discussion (the subject-line there is: “lozenge"):

“<snip>

...In the Arabic version they are almond-shaped sweets called “lozenj”, which is almost certainly the western word “lozenge”. That sent me looking into the etymology of that word. I was surprised to see that it *may* be of Celtic origin:

> From Old French losenge (French losange) ‘rhombus’, from Old 
> Provencal lausa ‘flat stone’, from Gaulish; cognate with Spanish 
> losa (“square tile”).

<snip>”

There is more at the above link, though mainly informed speculation.

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Posted: 27 April 2011 01:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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So is tonic, in that sense, restricted to New England?

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Posted: 27 April 2011 03:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Yes, pretty much.

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