1. Food fit for human consumption.
2. victuals Food supplies; provisions.
v. vict·ualed, vict·ual·ing, vict·uals or vict·ualled or vict·ual·ling
To provide with food.
1. To lay in food supplies.
2. To eat.
[Alteration (influenced by Late Latin vīctuālia, provisions) of Middle English vitaille, from Old French, from Late Latin vīctuālia, provisions, from neuter pl. of Latin vīctuālis, of nourishment, from vīctus, nourishment, from past participle of vīvere, to live; see gwei- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Victual is properly pronounced (vĭtl), with two syllables and no (k) sound. It was borrowed in the 1300s from the Old French form vitaille, which had stress and a diphthong in the second syllable, but the word was Anglicized after that to put the stress up front in the manner of most native English words. The spelling with c (and a little later with u) has a long history too, in both French and English. This spelling is a learned one, showing off the knowledge that the word came from Late Latin victuālia, "provisions." The word is now usually spelled victual, or on occasion vittle, but the pronunciation has remained (vĭtl).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
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