1. A trip or tour, especially:
a. One taken by an official at public expense.
b. One taken by a person who is the guest of a business or agency seeking favor or patronage.
2. A party, banquet, or outing.
3. A dessert made from flavored milk and rennet.
intr.v. jun·ket·ed, jun·ket·ing, jun·kets
To go on a junket.
[Middle English jonket, rush basket, preparation of cream or milk served on rushes, feast; akin to modern French dialectal (Normandy) jonquette, a kind of dessert made with boiled milk, and French jonchée, container made of rushes for draining soft cheeses, soft cheese made in such a container, all ultimately from Latin iuncus, rush; see JONQUIL.]
Word History: In medieval times, soft cheeses and similar foods made from milk and cream were prepared in baskets or on mats woven from grasslike plants called rushes. These baskets or mats would have allowed excess liquid to drain away while protecting the mass of coagulated milk or cream from breaking apart. Junket originally meant "rush basket, especially one for carrying fish," and is ultimately derived from the Latin word junca, "rush." Since delicate dishes of cream or milk could be served in these rush baskets or on these mats, junket became the name for the dishes themselves. By the early 1500s, the word had come to refer to an occasion at which a junket might be served—a banquet, feast, or bout of merrymaking in general. Then, during the 1800s in the United States, it developed the meaning "picnic, pleasure excursion with eating and drinking." Americans began to use the word junket especially of trips taken by officials at public expense, ostensibly for fact-finding or diplomatic purposes but really just for the officials' own enjoyment. Junket also came to refer to trips taken by politicians or other influential persons as guests of a business or organization seeking favors—a bribe in the form of cruise tickets.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
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