Desiccated Coconut 5 Comments

Desiccated Coconut

For most of my life, up until about two weeks ago, I had the unshakeable conviction that the word ‘desiccated’ meant ‘shredded’. This is because I only ever came across the word in reference to coconut. When baking the thing that struck me most about the coconut was not the fact it had been dried but the fact it was shredded into thousands of little white strips. I recently discovered my error when a friend used ‘desiccated’ in a sentence that had nothing to do with coconut and in which ‘shredded’ made absolutely no sense.

Yes, it was quite embarrassing but I’m pretty sure everyone can relate. It got me thinking about an alternate reality in which I never learnt the truth about ‘desiccated’ and died with that adamant, false belief. It probably wouldn’t matter so much. Words feel different to different people and shape the way we view and understand the world. I’m trying to re-program my brain to accept ‘desiccated’ as ‘dried’ but it’s proving very difficult. Just quietly, I think I’ll continue with ‘shredded’ but keep it to myself.

  • Raf

    While we’re keeping this private, I think it is safe to admit I thought along the same lines as you. Perhaps this has something to do with the assumption it is like the word ‘dissected’?
    I too only came across it on the coconut packets..
    Out of interest, what was the context your friend used it in?

  • http://www.samuelcooney.wordpress.com Sam

    I also thought it meant ‘shredded’. A sort of middle ground between dissected and decimated. English – how are you sposed to win? And who along the way decided that ‘Dried Coconut’ was not what the right fit? I would like dessicamate the idjit who thunked it up.

  • Cathy

    I always thought that dessicated meant super shredded. Because there are the shredded pieces and the really really small almost powdery ones. You’re on to something here.

  • http://afortunatefall.livejournal.com Saba

    I also thought that it meant ‘shredded’! I wonder how many other people think so too – if a word’s meaning is warped to this extent, then surely the warped meaning should also become recognised as, well, a legitimate meaning? i.e. we can change the meaning of words, sort of.

    … also, why couldn’t they just have called it “dried coconut” then? O_______O A mystery.

  • http://trojanhermit.blogspot.com Adolfo

    Really? I must be one of the few people who didn’t. But maybe that’s because I always used to play with those desiccants (‘Do not eat.’) you get with brand new shoes. And brand new shoes aren’t ever shredded. Nor are the little beads of whatever that are in those packets.