Yesterday’s F Minus cartoon, sent to me by Jan Freeman:
The food name baguette, in English and French, looks like a straightforward diminutive, derived from a base bague, which would then refer to a larger form of French bread (as in the cartoon). But in fact there’s no French food name bague (and so no English one either). English got foodie baguette from French, yes, but its history in French involved no base bague.
Remarkably, its history in French (according to OED2) started with the borrowing of an architectural term bacchetta from Italian into French, and then into English, almost three centuries ago, for ‘a small moulding of semicircular section’ (first cite 1728). Italian bacchetta *was* a diminutive, meaning ‘little rod or wand’, derived from bacchio (Latin baculum ‘staff’). So the Italian architectural term was a metaphorical extension of this diminutive.
Then, borrowed into French and then English, baguette underwent a series of further metaphorical extensions, in different domains: music, gemology, and, finally, food:
2. Music. [in an 1876 dictionary of musical terms, and notably in]
1938 Oxf. Compan. Music 63/2 Baguette, drumstick (also sometimes used for ‘baton’, and as the name for the stick of a fiddle bow)
3. A gem, usu. a diamond, cut in a long rectangular shape. [first cite in English in 1926]
4. A long, thin loaf of French bread, of various sizes in different regions, but usu. smaller than a flûte. [first cite in English in 1958]
F Minus is a horizontally oriented single panel comic strip by Tony Carrillo, started when he was a sophomore at Arizona State University. It ran daily in The State Press, an independent newspaper at ASU, from 2002 until 2004, when Carrillo graduated.
In an online mtvU strips contest with Scott Adams of Dilbert fame as member of the jury and with almost 200,000 people voting to find the best college comic strip, F Minus came in first place.
Having won a development deal with United Features Syndicate through the contest, syndication of F Minus (in daily newspapers) began on April 17, 2006 in 75 newspapers throughout the United States.
According to Tony Carrillo, most of the comics are about stupidity and losers. It doesn’t feature any story lines and is often compared to one of his favorites, The Far Side by Gary Larson.