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Gyro: Greek Food Among Top 10 US Dictionary Searches

The ubiquitous Greek gyros is making international headlines (file photo)


It may be only February but it is fair to say that Greek food has not been far from the headlines so far this year.

Even before this week — which saw Greece’s South Aegean win the title of ‘European Region of Gastronomy 2019’ — even the humble gyro made it into the international media.

U.S. online dictionary Merriam –Webster recently published a list of the 10 most-searched-for words in 2017 and, to the surprise of many, the Greek word gyro was at number seven.

Merriam–Webster said the word spiked in March when a widely shared sketch from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and country singer Luke Bryan began with them ordering from a New York City food truck and ended with a music video for a song called “I Don’t Know How to Pronounce Gyro.”

The dictionary explains that around 1970, the word gyro, from the Greek verb gyros (“turn”), was taken into English from Greek cuisine.

Its pronunciation follows Greek-influenced phonetic rules rather than English ones to give us /YEE-roh/ and /ZHIHR-oh/ as common pronunciations, it says.

Gyro is a dish made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, traditionally pork, or chicken, and outside Greece with beef, veal or lamb, and usually served wrapped in a flatbread such as pita, with tomato, onion and tzatziki sauce.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2017 is feminism. The word was a top search throughout the year, with several spikes that corresponded to various news reports and events.

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