15

What do we call the element that is between the bowl and the fiddle-shaped end of the handle?

I found several names: neck, shoulder, transition, curve, bend, bolster. But which one is correct?

a spoon

  • 1
    I don't know that one term is any better than the others. It isn't something that anybody would normally refer to. The only people using the term would be spoon makers. It probably has a number of terms referring to its function or nature. You would have an even harder time if you were talking about a spork. – fixer1234 Apr 11 '17 at 12:53
  • @fixer1234 Spork or spoon, the idea is the same. If I want someone to bend it harder at that place, how do I say it? – SovereignSun Apr 11 '17 at 12:58
  • 7
    I would probably use "neck" because that's a pretty universal term and people would know what I was referring to. The other terms would be ambiguous (and I've never heard "bolster" used in that context, but I'm not a spoon expert). – fixer1234 Apr 11 '17 at 13:06
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    I've been speaking English my whole live (well, since I was one year old or so anyway) and it never occurred to me that that part of a spoon even had a name... – stangdon Apr 11 '17 at 13:44
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    @SovereignSun - I would probably just tell him to "bend the spoon"! If I absolutely had to be specific, I would say "the handle", and if that wasn't specific enough, I guess I would say "the neck". – stangdon Apr 11 '17 at 18:03
18

It is often referred to as the stem of the spoon. Here are lots of quotes from Google for "stem of a spoon".

Here is a relevant definition for stem from Oxford Dictionaries Online

  1. A long, thin supportive or main section of something.

    the main stem of the wing feathers

The word stem is mainly used for plants:

enter image description here

But we can use it to refer to any long thin supporting part of an object. Wine glasses have stems in English:

enter image description here

Here is an image entitled "anatomy of a spoon":

enter image description here


Picture references:

1. First-learn.com

2. Fabulous Ladies Wine Society

3. Association of small collectors of antique silver

  • 4
    I agree that stem is the correct answer and can provide two additional sources 925-1000.com/a_spoonanatomy.html and antiques-art-collectibles.com/collectible/cutlery_pattern.htm I would also note that most people only talk about the handle or the bowl. For example when people describe the spoon bending that Uri Geller did, they would refer to the spot of bending as where the handle meets the bowl. Also, in the Wikipedia entry for types of spoons, many spoons are described as having a long handle when technically they have a long stem. – Zach Bolinger Apr 11 '17 at 13:32
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    Stem might be technically correct, but it is ambiguous when you have a continuous handle like the spoon in the question. Where does the handle end and the stem begin? Is there a shoulder? etc. A term like "neck" may not be technically correct, but people would understand it as a relatively shot, narrow area connecting the handle to the bowl. – fixer1234 Apr 11 '17 at 13:37
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    @fixer1234 It might be a pond thing. It's just the word that automatically came to mind as a Brit. – Araucaria Apr 11 '17 at 13:45
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    @SovereignSun No, it's used for lots of horizontalish things, like pipes for example :) – Araucaria Apr 11 '17 at 14:38
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    @SovereignSun Fixer's point is kind of right. If you break the stem you obviously break the handle because the stem is part of the handle. So you wouldn't be bothered about specifying that it was the thin narrow bit of the handle in most circumstances. However, if you do need to specify which part, stem is the word you need. Suppose for example you are giving someone instructions for applying eye make-up (see second section). You'll need to say stem here. If you say handle people will ... – Araucaria Apr 11 '17 at 14:50
11

This seems to vary, perhaps dependent on dialect and/or the particular shape of the spoon. Merriam-Webster's visual dictionary would call the narrowest part the neck and the rest, including the "fiddle-shaped end", all just handle.

Here is an image of M-W's diagram:

Diagram of spoon lying concave side up, showing parts from left to right: tip, bowl (top)/back (bottom), neck, handle

This diagram shows a spoon much like the one in the OP's example, narrowest just at the bowl and widening from there. It lacks the fancy, wider bit just where the bowl meets the handle that is labelled "shoulder" in a diagram in another answer. For this simple type of spoon I would be inclined to talk about the neck as the narrowest bit; if there were a "shoulder" then perhaps stem would make more sense.

My impression is that neck is the more common term in the US for flatware, perhaps because in the realm of kitchen terminology stems naturally bring to mind stemware (i.e. wine glasses, champagne flutes, etc.) or possibly because we have more examples of the shoulder-less kind of spoon (all plastic spoons, for example). It's hard to judge this objectively because it's just not a common thing to talk about, but I note that there are about 24 hits in Google Books for "neck of the spoon" and about 17 for "stem of the spoon"; I would guess that these skew toward US publishers, though I haven't actually examined all the results.


Edit: Here is an image of a Google Ngram comparing "neck of the spoon" and "stem of the spoon" in the American corpus and British corpus, respectively, in case that platform is more stable than the regular Google Books search (which doesn't always return the same answers for an apparently identical search). The Ngrams do in fact suggest that "neck" is more common in the modern US, while "stem" is the only choice in the UK, but the n is so low that I would only call it suggestive, not definitive.

Google Ngram comparing "neck of the spoon" and "stem of the spoon" in the American corpus and British corpus, respectively, both from 1900-2000; "neck" overtakes "stem" in the American Ngram around 1980 except for a small dip in the early nineties, but is not found in the UK corpus at all.

  • 1
    Merriam-Webster is obviously the ultimate authority on spoons. This is clearly the correct answer. :-) – fixer1234 Apr 11 '17 at 20:23
  • "neck is the more common term in the US" - As a native British English speaker, "neck" would be my term of choice for this part of the spoon as well. (I'm no spoon expert, just a commoner.) – MrWhite Apr 11 '17 at 20:36
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    +1 from me :) [In terms of Google books, though, there are no hits for "neck of the spoon". None of those returns actually have the phrase "neck of the spoon" in if we actually look at them (that doesn't really mean very much!). But there are several instances in the returns for "stem of the spoon", though (and that doesn't mean very much either!)] – Araucaria Apr 12 '17 at 0:01
  • @Araucaria Interesting. Did you follow my links, or do your own search? Either way, it may be evidence of an Atlantic divide, since presumably Google's search bubble is preferencing UK results for you and US results for me. Oh, and also did you note that the links were to the last page of legit results for each search? The actually-visible results are all on the earlier pages, and later "pages" return a "did not match any book results" error. – 1006a Apr 12 '17 at 0:44
  • @1006a I did both!!! I can still only get one result from Googebooks for "neck of the spoon". – Araucaria Apr 12 '17 at 13:20

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