Shelby the Word Nerd: Gluten-free


1. Describes any food or food substitute with an unappealing or slightly disappointing texture, taste, smell or appearance. Ex. “Wow, this dog shit must be gluten-free.”
2. Used to show competence in the arena of sustainable, hipster living. Ex. “I rode my fixie to the Co-op today after yoga and they were totally out of gluten-free wheat-grass shots. This is like the worst day ever.”
3. An unnecessary addition to the description of a food item that has never, ever, ever even been close to containing any type of wheat product. Ex. “OMG, the label on this broccoli says it’s gluten free!”


Gluten-free can be traced back to the late classical period term “gooden-fraught,” used to describe the leftover food reserved for the sons and daughters of aristocrats who were “so over” banquets. The term fell out of use until the 1500s, when it reappeared as “glued in froth.”

“Glued in froth” refers to the process of constructing non-wheat bread-like substances to be consumed during debates over the heliocentricity of the earth.

The term appeared in its current usage, “gluten-free,” beginning in the late 1940’s, as existentialist circles began employing it to describe the foods served at poetry readings, which “didn’t cause gas.” Since then, the term’s use has exploded, and is now a common feature of any young urbanite’s vocabulary.