Had a neptunian, fire-fanged or lickerous lunch?

When it comes to describing food, what words do you use? Let me guess… delicious, tasty, mouth-watering?

Sainsbury Taste DictionaryA brand new dictionary has been produced featuring a plethora of words to inspire the nation when describing some of our best-loved foods.

It fascinated me so I thought I’d share it with you. I challenge you to impress your friends with some of these morsels…

Words to describe flavour include:

  • neptunian meaning: carrying the strong flavour of the sea
  • fire-fanged – meaning: Having a scorched appearance or taste and
  • lickerous – meaning: sweet and tempting.

Thinking about food
New research reveals we now think, plan and talk about food for more than 16 hours a week on average.

That’s almost six years of our adult lives…

This puts it on par with the nation’s favourite topic of conversation, the weather.

Despite this, when it comes to complimenting the chef, ‘delicious’, ‘tasty’ and ‘nice’ are still top of our vocabulary, with most Britons only using six different words to describe meals each week.

To expand this limited list, Sainsbury’s has recruited linguist Susie Dent to add a little flavour to the nation’s foodie vocabulary, unveiling ‘The Taste Dictionary: 101 ways to describe each mouthful’.

It includes the words mordacious, pertish, piquant, piscose and many more. I encourage you to take a look if you’re a words-fan (and most communicators are!), it could also help boost your Scrabble score.

Sainsbury Taste Dictionary

Sainsbury Taste Dictionary

Conversation about food has never been so popular, with almost a third of people (30%) admitting to sharing food pictures on social media.

On average, we send at least one food-related text or message to friends and family every single day.

Does that include you?

However, when it comes to describing our dishes, adjectives are taking a back seat compared to visual cues.

The research shows over a quarter of Britons (26%) rely on emoji to do the talking, with the ‘smiley face’ and the ‘tears of joy face’ the most used.

Despite more than 214 million hashtags used on Instagram for food images alone, the breadth is still limited: ‘#foodporn’ (101.9 million); ‘#instafood’ (68.3 million) and ‘#foodstagram’ (17.8 million)4 are amongst the top foodie hashtags as Brits bypass traditional vocabulary to try to generate as many shares and likes as possible.

susie_dentFood with real bite
Susie Dent, English lexicographer, etymologist, and face of Countdown’s ‘Dictionary Corner’, comments: “I have so many favourite words in this list, and each of them offers a rich or sumptuous alternative to our usual taste repertoire.

“I particularly like mordacious, a word to describe something sharp and with a real bite –  it brings to life foods such as mustard and gooseberries beautifully.  As a nation we love our dialects too, and there is a lot of regional variance in the names for different foods (barmcake, bap or bun anyone?).

However as we become more experimental with what is on our plates, our language also needs to evolve to reflect this new culinary landscape.

“The Sainsbury’s Taste Dictionary is a great way to spice up your meal time and to get the conversation flowing over the dinner table.”

Sainsbury Taste Dictionary

Susi Richards, Head of Product Development for Food at Sainsbury’s said: “We are always looking for ways crispto inspire our customers when it comes to trying and enjoying different foods. It’s been great to get Susie on board to impart her knowledge and expertise in the area of language, alongside our strong heritage in quality food. With The Taste Dictionary including new and unexpected words, it will be an additional source of inspiration to the Sainsbury’s food team in how we think and talk about food.”

The Sainsbury’s Taste Dictionary has been created as a limited run of books and is available to download as a PDF.

Join the conversation and share your favourite words on Instagram or Twitter using @SainsburysNews and #TasteDictionary. There will also be a limited number to win through the Sainsbury’s Twitter and Instagram channels.

This is my favourite one…

Taste dictionary

What do you think of the dictionary? You’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

Learn more
GlossaryIf you would like to learn about the language of communication, see my internal comms glossary page for all you need to know.

If you’d like to learn more about internal communication, check out All Things IC Masterclasses. These are one-day courses held in London to help professional communicators achieve excellence.

If you’re a words-fan, sign up for the Writing Skills Masterclass in February.

Want to know what attendees think of Masterclasses? Professional communicator Advita Patel @advita_p attended a Strategic IC course a few weeks back.

She’s pictured above with her fellow classmates and has just blogged her thoughts:

It’s been a month since I went to Rachel Miller’s strategic internal comms masterclass and I’m still energised and buzzing from the session. We were able to share ideas and thoughts without feeling overwhelmed or under pressure. The group I was with were fabulous and came from different organisations not only in the U.K. but from across Europe as well.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Advita, I’m thrilled you found the session so useful and appreciate you writing about your experience.

Bookings are open now for upcoming courses. They include:

See the Masterclasses website for all you need to know and to save your space.

Thank you as ever for stopping by,


Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 7 November 2016.


  1. Paul Osgood says:

    My major fear is that, by openly publishing such obscure and fascinating vocabulary, we risk the Pizza Express lexicon expanding overnight. Do you think that we could ask Sainsburys to become a quiet advocate of this new language and allow us a few moments of literary arbitrage?

  2. Hi Paul, thanks for your comment. I wonder whether this will be the first of many?

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