Sherbet v sorbet
Frank Pierce
Apparently old-fashioned sherbet has become sorbet. Why and when?

The spelling and pronunciation have changed, now being pronounced soar-BAY, but the glop is still about the same, sort of like sweet, sticky frozen water. Or is it?

I haven't seen sherbet on a menu in a number of years. What gives?

I find that there is a slight, semantic difference. "Sorbet" refers only to the frozen desert but this is only one of the meanings of "sherbet" with the other one being a sweetened beverage containing cold fruit juice. They're etymologically linked to "serbet" (from the Persian and Turkish), but I don't find any basis for referring to the drink, as opposed to the mushy solid, as "sorbet."

I'd opine that referring to the desert as sorbet had less to do finding an unambiguous term than a simple marketing spin of using a word with ending in a long "A" sound and spelled with a silent "T" to have it come off classier to the English-speaking ear.

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