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If you say something is acetic you mean that it is like vinegar or like acetic acid. The vinegar part of the definition was helpful in getting to understand the word, but how does it help me if the dictionary tells me that acetic means that the thing that the adjective acetic is describing is like acetic acid?

Why would I have to look up acetic if I know what acetic acid is? Do they think I’m completely stupid? Lest there be any doubt, that was a rhetorical question. Which is not to say that I’m not completely stupid, but rather that I don’t want anyone to bother answering the question.

Fortunately, acetic acid is the next word in the dictionary.

But, before we leave acetic, there’s that “like vinegar” part of the definition to consider further. If you went into a rustic fish-and-chip shop housed in a sea shanty and run by a lovely couple who never made it past tenth grade, but who have lots of down home charm and asked them for something acetic to put on your fish, do you think you’d:

  1. Get vinegar?
  2. Get looked at as if your crazy?
  3. Get thrown out for being a smart ass?
  4. All of the above?
  5. None of the above?

My guess would be d, all of the above.

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