Origins of Common Words - Sundae

About the history, origins, and definitions of the common word sundae


Sundae - Because of its spelling, most etymologists have tried to link sundae to the day of the week, with varying degrees of ingenuity. According to one story, when the blue laws of Virginia prohibited the sale of soda drinks on Sundays, an enterprising merchant sold the ice cream and syrup alone, and--voila! There it was! Then again, there's the tale of George Hallaver, of Two Rivers, Wis., who ordered a dish of ice cream with chocolate syrup on top. News of the innovative dish spread to nearby Manitowoc, where George Giffy began to sell it in his ice cream parlor as a Sunday treat. On the other hand, some people claim that the students at Northwestern University named the dish after their baseball coach, evangelist Billy Sunday. But even if the word came from Sunday, none of these stories explains why a 1904 newspaper spelled it sundi, and why, as late as 1929, dictionaries listed sondhi as yet another variant of the same word, a dish they also called college ice. Nor do they explain where the-dae ending came from.

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