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expresso

[ ik-spres-oh ]
/ ɪkˈsprɛs oʊ /
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noun, plural ex·pres·sos.
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Origin of expresso

By association with express
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does expresso mean?

Expresso is a variant of the word espresso, a kind of strong coffee made by forcing steam or boiling water through ground, dark-roast coffee beans.

Is expresso a word?

The term expresso originated as a mispronunciation and misspelling of espresso. But it has become used commonly enough to be added to the dictionary. Being in the dictionary doesn’t make it a word—people using it commonly and you knowing what they mean makes it a word!

In English, the letter combination es is far less common than ex at the beginning of words. So for many English speakers, it feels more natural to pronounce the beginning of espresso as ex rather than es. This has probably been influenced by the word express, which is associated with speed, and the stimulating effects of espresso’s jolt of caffeine.

We know, we know—some people don’t think expresso is a “real word.” But this is how language works. In English, it isn’t all that unusual for variant spellings and pronunciations to become the standard over time. For example, the word bird comes from the Middle English term bryd. The word apron was originally napron, but changed due to the fact that saying a napron sounds a lot like an apron.

The word espresso can also refer to a cup of espresso (as in I like to have an espresso after dinner) or an espresso machine (as in I got an espresso so now I can make my favorite drinks at home), and the word expresso can be used in these ways as well.

Example: The barista corrected me when I ordered an expresso, but I can’t be held responsible for what I say before I’ve had my coffee.

Where does expresso come from?

The word espresso is fairly new to English, with the first records of its use coming from the 1940s. The confusion over its pronunciation (and, subsequently, its spelling) probably dates back to the time when it started to become widespread in English. The word espresso comes from the Italian term caffè espresso, which literally means “pressed coffee.” The variation from es to ex isn’t all that surprising—the Italian word espresso ultimately derives from the Latin verb exprimere, meaning “to press out.”

Espresso and expresso are relatively new to English, but their use (and consumption) has become widespread along with other coffee-related terms, such as cappuccino, latte, and mocha. Expresso is so strong that it’s usually served in a very small cup. Sometimes, people have a “shot” of expresso by itself or added to their coffee to make it stronger. Several expresso shots are an express to the caffeine jitters.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to expresso?

  • expressos (plural)
  • espresso (standard spelling)

What are some words that often get used in discussing expresso?

How is expresso used in real life?

Some people judge those who say expresso rather than espresso, but that’s just the way language works sometimes.

 

 

Try using expresso!

Is expresso used correctly in the following sentence?

You want to take a break and grab an expresso?

How to use expresso in a sentence

  • You can sit there, after the paper's read, sip your expresso and watch the people go by.

    I'm a Stranger Here Myself|Dallas McCord Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for expresso

expresso
/ (ɪkˈsprɛsəʊ) /

noun
a variant of espresso
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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