Today I found myself wondering about how alfredo sauce got its name. I thought that it might be similar to how al dente pasta is "to the tooth", but I was really confused about what fredo could mean. Turns out that's because the whole thing is literally some guy's name. The fettucine dish was invented by Alfredo di Lelio in Rome in the early twentieth century, and his particular style of making it was so popular that it was named after him. The name Alfredo comes from the Old English roots aelf, meaning "elf", and raed, meaning "advice". Aelf, which is also the etymon of the English word elf, derives from the Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European roots albiz and helbos, meaning "white". Raed traces to Proto-Germanic redaz and is eventually reconstructed to Proto-Indo-European hrehd, meaning "think".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.