Zumologists In The Zythepsary

Here are some obsolete words that need to be brought back. We all know zymurgy is “the branch of applied chemistry dealing with fermentation, as in winemaking, brewing, the preparation of yeast, etc.” not to mention a magazine, and zymology “is the study of zymurgy, the area of applied science related to fermentation. It deals with the biochemical processes involved in fermentation, with yeast selection and physiology, and with the practical issues of brewing.” So far so good, but have you ever heard of these?

A brewer. Webster’s 1828 has this definition. “n. One who is skilled in the fermentation of liquors.” It’s also an alternate form of “zymologist.” And one dictionary claims this as its origins. “fr. Gk zume, to ferment + -ologist
Webster’s 1828 has this definition. “n. [Gr., ferment; to ferment; discourse.] A treatise on the fermentation of liquors, or the doctrine of fermentation.
A brewery, according to “Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.” Apparently it’s from “Ancient Greek ζῦθος (zuthos, ‘barley beer’) + ἕψω (hepsō, ‘boil’)
One 1835 dictionary lists the word thusly:
ZYTHEPSARY, zidi-iVser-4, n. A place for brewing ; a brewery ; a brewhouse. A pronouncing and explanatory dictionary of the English language: Page 740 James Knowles — 1835.”
And case you’re curious here’s how to pronounce zythepsary.
The same 1835 dictionary defines zythum as “n. A beverage ; a liquor composed of malt and corn. A pronouncing and explanatory dictionary of the English language: Page 740 James Knowles — 1835.”

Those are some pretty cool words. Come on people, let’s starting using those again. Who doesn’t want to go for a Zythum, made by a Zumologist at your local Zythepsary?

Here’s a passage by Charles Dickens in the weekly Journal “All the Year Round” using the word zythepsary. It’s from 1861, when the word was already uncommon, apparently.

“But the oddest things of all are to be found in the dictionaries. Why they are all kept there no one knows; but what man in his senses would use such words as zythepsary for a brewhouse, and zumologist for a brewer; would talk of a stormy day as procellous and himself as madefied; of his long-legged son as increasing in procerity but sadly inarcid, of having met wilh much procacity from such a one; of a bore as a macrologist; of an aged horse as macrobiolic; of important business as moliminous,and his daughter’s necklace as moniliform; of some one’s talk as meracious, and lament, his last night’s nimiety of wine at that dapatical feast, whence he was taken by ereption?”

And this Pabst ad from 1897 refers to the Pabst Zythepsary.


And here’s science fiction writer Isaac Asimov using zymologist in 1962’s “The Caves of Steel.”

“‘I’m a zymologist, if you don’t mind.’

‘What’s the difference?’

Clousarr looked lofty. ‘A chemist is a soup-pusher, a stink-operator. A zymologist is a man who helps keep a few billion people alive. I’m a yeast-culture specialist.'”

I’ve heard Yeast-wrangler before, but not that one. That’s also pretty awesome. I’d love to start seeing that on brewers’ business cards: “Yeast-Culture Specialist.”



  1. says

    Yes, Asimov was actually born in Russia & his last name in Russian meant ‘Winter Grain’. His family moved to New York and Isaac pretty much lived there all his life. Definitely not Canadian,eh!

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