With Thanksgiving Day upon us, many people find themselves looking at the prospect of a long meal with their extended family with a mixture of dread and trepidation. At the service of familial accord, we offer the following words as a means of giving our readers something—aside from politics or religion— to talk about: the meal itself.
a situation providing abnormal or excessive profits, advantages, or benefits for those occupying it usually at the expense of some larger group
Did You Know?
Gravy has been around since the 14th century, or at least the word for it has. For most of that time it has carried a relatively narrow set of meanings, generally having to do with some sort of moist exudate from cooked meat. (It sounds much nicer when you just call it gravy, doesn’t it?).
More recently, however, gravy has taken on some additional meanings, such as ‘unexpected and pleasing results’ and ‘improper profits or graft’. The expression gravy train is closely related to the graftier one of those meanings, and has nothing to do with the endless succession of sauces working their way around the table at Thanksgiving.
Gravy train began to be used in the beginning of the 20th century, at about the same time that gravy by itself began to be used as a synonym for graft.
If the McKinley administration is responsible for the “full dinner pail” throughout the land, we suppose Your Uncle Hanna has full charge of the “gravy train.” Those patriots who are on the hog will please take notice.
—The Alexander City Outlook (Alexander City, AL), 12 OCt. 1900