Ever considered the similarity in structure between macaroon and macaroni? In fact, the two words are connected: macaroon (through French macaron and Italian maccarone) and macaroni (through Italian maccaroni) both trace to the Italian word maccherone, which described a macaroni-like pasta. Obviously it was macaroon that went through a semantic shift here; it was named after the pasta because macaroon cookies utilize coconut or almond shredded in a manner reminiscent of macaroni. Now, maccherone has two possible origins, each as vague as the next. It may be from the earlier Italian word maccare, or "to crush", or it may be from the Greek word makaria, which meant "food with barley", perhaps since the original pastas were made with that vegetable. Both words have uncertain origins. Later, the word macaroon deviated much farther from its original meaning as it came to be the term for a sort of French cookie that had nothing to do with shredded bits. Ah, how languages change!
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