Prosciutto, of course, is a type of Italian dry-cured ham eaten uncooked and taken from a pig's thigh. The word is quite clearly Italian as well, but what did it mean and where does it come from? Well, in the original Italian, it took the form of presciutto, a clear relative of prosciugato, the word for "dried". This parched definition holds true as we go further back, eliminating the prefix pre-, which is just intensive in this situation, and arriving at the root asciutto, which meant "dry" in general. This derives from Latin exsuctus, which literally meant "lacking juice", as ex- means "out" (and it was a hidden prefix, if you think about it!) and suctus, the main component, comes from the verb sugere, or "to suck". Sucking out all the juice yields a lack of juice, so there you go! Sugere may trace to the Proto-Indo-European root seue, which is reconstructed as meaning "to take liquid". After being borrowed into English in the year 1911, prosciutto is now enjoying greater usage than ever before, as more bakeries out there are trying to be fancy.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd