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I know what cartilage is, but I was looking for the every day synonym to the word in the context of meat and eating, not in the context of human anatomy. I found out that gristle maybe the informal synonym I was looking for, but I want to confirm what I think before adopting the word.

Note that gristle was described as a nontechnical name under the definition of cartilage.

Update: The reason I am asking is that my daughter asked me about the name of that kinda white solid matter covering the end of a bone while she was eating a chicken thigh. I told her it is called cartilage, but then this is more of a technical term than an everyday word for a child to use.

  • What exactly are you wanting to communicate--the texture, or something else? – chrylis -on strike- Nov 10 '13 at 6:15
  • My daughter asked me about the name of that kinda white solid matter covering the end of a bone while she was eating a chicken thigh. I told her it is called cartilage, but then this is more of a technical term than an everyday word for a child to use. – learner Nov 10 '13 at 6:22
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    +1 for the update. Such background information is generally both interesting and immensely helpful. And thank you for putting that information in the question, instead of only in a comment, which makes it harder to find. Well done! (Plus, it's an interesting question; my on-board thesaurus found no entries for cartilage or gristle.) – J.R. Nov 10 '13 at 11:29
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People sometimes call cartilage "soft bone". This is used in the context of eating, as in, "Johny, you can eat the soft bone on that chicken drumstick, you know!". "Soft bone? That's silly, mommy!"

The Wikipedia page "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_bone" redirects to Cartilage.

People are justified in using "soft bone" because cartilage is related to bone. Some cartilage projects from bone, and continues the same shape or profile. Some cartilage turns into bone via ossification.

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    Why are there some people down voting this answer? People who just down vote without constructive criticism are not helpful. – learner Nov 11 '13 at 17:15
  • @learner I am not among the downvoters, but I would guess the downvotes are because this is not the best word for the thing you're describing—“gristle” is. “Gristle” is commonly used in exactly the manner you’re describing. I’ve never heard “soft bone” before. It might be the simplest usable term, insofar as it is a basic combination of two words your daughter already knows, but it’s not ideal because it’s an uncommon term—that, furthermore, seems to be related to anatomical cartilage and not how we describe what we eat. It’s like the difference between “mutton” and “sheep” in that respect. – Tyler James Young Nov 18 '13 at 23:59
  • @TylerJamesYoung Gristle is anything tough in meat that is difficult to eat. Gristle can occur in the middle of a steak, where there is no cartilage. The Wikipedia recognizes "soft bone". Other languages have words for cartilage that mean soft bone, like the Japanese nankotsu. "Soft bone" is useful if you're introducing cartilage to kids, what OP wants. "Kids, cartilage is a kind of soft bone: it's like bone, but the stuff which makes bone hard is missing. Some cartilage turns to bone. There are other things that are tough to chew in meat; they are all called gristle, including cartilage." – Kaz Nov 19 '13 at 0:10
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    Yup, makes sense to me (hence no downvote). Your answer doesn't currently give the impression that you would use the uncommon (unknown to me) term "soft bone" to explain the useful word "gristle" to the child, though. As it stands, it sounds like you are recommending that the child use "soft bone" to describe the thing, which IMO isn't much of an improvement on describing it the way she already did, because it's unlikely anyone she meets will recognize "soft bone" as a specific term referring to cartilage. I'd upvote if you incorporated this latest comment. – Tyler James Young Nov 19 '13 at 13:34
  • Soft bone? I have never heard that used in place of cartilage. – Robusto Feb 21 '18 at 23:08
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Yes, The word gristle is used to describe cartilage in a cut of meat, primarily with a distasteful connotation. The word cartilage itself is used in virtually all other contexts.

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