Chefs, bartenders and other sniglet enthusiasts coined ten words for our list.

By James Oliver Cury
Updated May 23, 2017
Food Words
Credit: © Lawrence Marcus

Remember when you used to get angry but you were really just hungry—and there was no word for that? And then suddenly you heard someone use “hangry” and felt like maybe your mood swings weren’t so crazy after all. Well, last week, The New York Times’ Julia Moskin wrote about new food-related phrases that finally made it into the dictionary in 2015. And, yes, hangry made the list (it’s right here) along with wine o’clock (the time when you are ready to drink wine) and zarf (the cardboard sleeve that slips over a coffee cup and keeps your palm from burning).

Growing up in the 1980s, there was another word for these kinds of words: sniglets. The formal term would be neologisms—words that should be in the dictionary but aren’t. Chances are you’ve coined one of these in the past, too; they are certainly popular among chefs, bartenders, food lovers and word geeks (check Urban Dictionary and you may find that someone else crafted a definition for one of “your” terms long before you did). With that in mind, I asked friends and colleagues to send me their words-that-should-exist suggestions, and added a few myself.

Al Desko (adj.) Dining at one’s desk. As in: “While the diners enjoy their fare al fresco, outdoors surrounded by pleasant weather, restaurant workers take their lunch al desko to make up for their lack of time to rest and relax over a meal.” —Mark Steuer, chef de cuisine at La Sirena Clandestina

Carboleaver (n.) The person on a low-carb diet who always leaves the carb foods from their entrée on the plate. As in: “Don’t order the brushetta because Josh is a carboleaver.” —James Oliver Cury

Cheapettone (n.) Customers who share a salad three ways, drink only tap water, stay at the table for hours and don't leave a tip. As in: “Oh crap, I got another table of cheapettones.” —Ilaria Coletto, co-owner of Alfredo 100

Clopen (v.) To both close a bar or restaurant at night and open it the next day. As in: “Me again? It’s a miracle I get any sleep in between clopening this place.” —David Brinkman, chef de cuisine The Fourth and Botequim

Drinkster (n.) A hipster drinker, spotted in a bar, usually drawing attention to his/her cocktail savvy. As in: “I could hear the two drinksters arguing about proper ice temperature from outside.” —Antonia Joannides, bartender at The Bar Room

Flosstrated (adj.) Despairing because no amount of tooth floss can remove the morsel of food in your teeth. As in: “Honey, I’m so flosstrated; this piece of steak is still caught between my teeth.” —James Oliver Cury

Left-unders (n.) Food that has been wrapped up for later consumption and placed under other items in the refrigerator—and promptly forgotten about. As In: “I didn’t realize we had any chicken until I searched through the left-unders and found it beneath the Pad Thai.” —James Oliver Cury

Smallway (n.) The cramped hallway where diners have to stand while waiting for the bathroom. As in: “Oh jeez, look at that line for the loo; there’s no way I’m waiting in that smallway.” —James Oliver Cury

Smice (n.) Smelly ice that can make a drink taste “off”—usually a result of old age and contamination from other foods in the freezer. As in: “Yuck, I think my vodka and tonic has smice!” —James Oliver Cury

Twisty (adj.) The origin of the word lies in "twisty mustache," but it has come to mean "elevated" or "fancy," though this can sometimes be derogatory. As in: "That bar is way too twisty for me" or "I'll try a twisty cocktail to see what they can do." —Michael Neff, beverage director of Holiday Cocktail Lounge