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Unta Is for Sopping Up the Last Bites

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Corey in Buffalo, New York, says her family uses the word unta for “the piece of bread you use to sop up the last bite of what you’re eating.” They also use it as a verb, as in I’m going to unta. Her family is half Sephardic and half Ashkenazi, and her grandparents spoke Ladino. In Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, and Catalan, the verb untar means “to spread,” “to grease,” or “to smear,” and in Italian, a fettunta is “a greasy slice of bread,” also called a panunto. Corey says another family she knows refers to the end of a piece of bread as the schnuff. This term reflects their German heritage, because in German, the word Schnuff means “snout,” and is an etymological relative of English snuff and snuffle. In English, the end of a loaf of bread is also called the nose or the heel,or the butt or bum end, and in Spanish, it’s sometimes called the codo, or “elbow.” This is part of a complete episode.

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