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Almond Milk!

I was told that I should post this here until Oxford English Dictionary gets back to me so I was t:

Recently, there has been an intense debate over whether or not almond milk can be defined as a subset of milk under the definition of milk. Here is the following argument.. I'm interested to see what people think.

Often times, my friends refer to the definition of milk during our debates. According to your dictionary, in addition to other reputable dictionaries, milk is defined as "A whitish fluid, rich in fat and protein, secreted by the mammary glands of female mammals (including humans) for the nourishment of their young, and taken from cows, sheep, etc., as an article of the human diet." To this some have argued that because almond milk does not originate from mammary glands of a female mammal, as almonds are not female mammals possessing mammary glands, that almond milk cannot be considered milk. To bolster such argument, the same group also retort to the definition of juice, "The watery or liquid part of vegetables or fruits, which can be expressed or extracted; commonly containing the characteristic flavour and other properties" citing that almond milk is better characterized as almond juice because it is made from the seed of the drape fruit. They also cite the definition of almond milk which states that almond milk is, "A milky liquid..." Reasoning that because the "milky" portion of the definition is used as an adjective rather a noun, they explain that it used to show the semblance of almond milk to milk, rather than almond milk as a subset of milk.

However, the other side argues that the definition of milk is outdated and does not meet the evolving standard of society. The definition of milk was last updated in March 2002 while the definition of almond milk was last updated in September 2012. One would argue that although almond milk has become increasingly popular, it would seem that the definition of milk was not updated to meet this standard. One could argue that almond fits the definition of milk redacting the mammary gland portion. Simply because it does not come from the mammary gland of an almond should not disqualify almond milk from being considered a milk. There are new and emerging types of milk: soy, almond, etc. This group argues that the definition for milk was created prior to the rise of popularity of alternative milks and thus the definition should be rectified to be inclusive of them.

So our question is whether almond milk is defined as a milk or something else? If so, what is that something?

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you,

Danny and friends

P.S. Sorry for any formatting issues, 1st post on here.


  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭
    edited April 2018

    The OED entry for almond milk is

    A milky liquid prepared from ground almonds, used as a drink and in cooking, and also applied to the skin, etc., as an emollient.

    The earliest known usage is from 1381. But before that English writers of French in England — so-called Anglo-Norman — described it as leit d'alemandes.

    So where's the problem?

    In the entry for milk it appears under subheading use 5

    5.a. A culinary, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, or other preparation resembling milk, esp. in colour. Usually with the principal ingredient or use specified by a preceding or following word.
    5.b. milk of almonds n. = almond milk n.
    5.c. milk of sulphur n.
    5.d. milk of lime n
    5.e. Milk of Magnesia n.

  • Hi @JusticeForAlmonds,
    Interesting, I was not aware almond milk divided opinions like that - and I have it almost every day for breakfast :)

    Just to complement @DavidCrosbie's post, I only wanted to note that the dictionary is not prescriptive, it does not aim to decide how words should be used, but record the use people make of words, provided there is enough evidence for a particular word or sense.

  • Hi @JusticeForAlmonds (Danny and friends),

    I thought you would like to know that your post has sparked the idea for an Oxford Dictionaries blog post, which has just gone live:
    Is almond milk really milk?

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