Decadent. I don’t know about you, but when I hear that word, I think of ooey-gooey chocolate … maybe caramel … something rich and satisfying and the highest heights of delightful.

Turns out, I’m a victim of a 1970s-and-onward advertising hijack of the word. Advertisers seized the word and began using it to describe desserts. The thing is … it doesn’t mean that at all.

What it actually means is “in a state of decline or decay (from a former condition of excellence).” It dates from the 1830s in English but is directly from a French word that means “decay.” Um … ew. Why are we using that for desserts??

Originally in English, the word was used to describe literary or artistic movements that were in a state of decline or past their heyday. Then it began to be used for pleasures that would only appeal to people of dubious morals or poor taste … and from there it just came to be associated with “pleasurable.”

Gotta love those words that have been totally flipped on their heads!