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September 20, 2018

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “condiment” I immediately envision an outdoor scene with burgers on the grill and ketchup, mustard, and mayo on the table. When our illustrator recently asked me where to put our new salt and pepper flashcards, I confess I was stumped for a minute! We have a Condiments flashcard category, but are salt and pepper truly condiments?

The only condiments we had in that flashcard section thus far were the ones we came up with for our Word Bank – Condiments vocabulary lesson, which included a mouth‑watering array of global condiments:

  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • mayonnaise
  • vinegar
  • oil salad dressing
  • soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • hot sauce
  • barbecue sauce
  • plum sauce
  • salsa

So are salt, pepper, and other spices truly condiments? What about other flavor‑enhancers for food, such as pickles and olives? These delicious questions prompted today's blog post. Let’s take a closer look at the origin and dictionary definitions of the word “condiment.”


The word condiment comes from the Latin condimentum, meaning “spice,” from condire, meaning “to season” or “to pickle.”


What do the dictionaries have to say? The definition for the noun “condiment” is pretty similar across the board.


something used to enhance the flavor of food

especially : a pungent seasoning


a substance such as salt, mustard, or pickle that is used to add flavour to food


something used to give a special flavor to food, as mustard, ketchup, salt, or spices


According to the definitions above, it’s pretty clear that most things that can add flavor to food can be classified in the condiments category. This would include sauces (such as ketchup and salad dressing), spices (such as salt, pepper, dill, cumin, etc.), pickles (such as olives and capers), and other seasonings (such as lemon rind or toasted sesame seeds). Anyone else hungry?

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