The word victual (often seen in plural form) refers to food or other provisions necessary for survival. It's pronounced vittle, which seems really bizarre at first, but none of the original spellings (such as the Middle English attestations vitail, vittle, vytall, vituale, vitall) had a c in them. The letter was added in the sixteenth century to make the word look more like the Latin root, but the pronunciation remained the same. Victual was borrowed in the early 1300s from Old French vitaille, and that's from Latin victualia, with the same definition. That traces to the word victus, meaning "that which sustains life", and victus is a past participle of vivere, "to live". Finally, it's all reconstructed to the Proto-Indo-European root gwei, also "to live". Literary usage of victual has been steadily declining since the 1620s, and many now consider it archaic.
Adam Aleksic is a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University. He also has disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.