To my parents, who once purchased a small LEGO set for a long and frightening plane trip, beginning an obsession with creativity and organization that continues to relax and inspire.

Finally, a heaping third spoonful of gratitude to Jennifer and Hadden, who continue to inspire and encourage me even as I pound out words and code every day.

I specifically don't understand heaping third.

  • 4
    It's a {heaping {third spoonful}}. I suppose he has given each of his parents a spoonful. Now he's got a third spoonful of gratitude, and it is a heaping spoonful. The collector has added a shiny fifth car to his collection. Feb 4, 2016 at 13:57
  • 1
    'Heaped' rather than 'heaping' would maybe sound better / be more grammatical.
    – peterG
    Feb 4, 2016 at 16:54
  • @TRomano the ambiguity comes from the fact that third comes second in the phrase. If it came first it would be more clear.
    – JAB
    Feb 4, 2016 at 17:55
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    @peterG Except that "heaping container" is a common phrase in (American) English. For example, in recipes you'll sometimes see "1 heaping cup of flour" or "2 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon". "third" is thus just an inserted word in the phrase "heaping spoonful". -- I don't know if "heaped cup" is used in elsewhere, but I don't believe I've ever encountered it in American cookbooks.
    – R.M.
    Feb 4, 2016 at 17:58
  • 2
    @R.M. I'm sure you're right. I should have added 'in Br Eng' to my comment.
    – peterG
    Feb 4, 2016 at 18:20

4 Answers 4


It's literally the third dedication in this book, and a heaping spoonful is just a really full spoonful, if you heaped it on so there's a pile overlooking the edge of the spoon, about to fall out.

  • 3
    Worth noting: this use of heaping as an adjective is mostly only American English. In British English, heaped is a close equivalent. Comparison at Google NGrams: British usage, American usage.
    – PLL
    Feb 4, 2016 at 18:52

The collector has added a sporty fifth car to his collection.

The fifth car added is sporty. (Maybe some of the others are limos or trucks or family stationwagons; we don't know; all we know is that the fifth car is sporty).

The collector has added a fifth sporty car to his collection.

All five cars are sporty.

  • 2
    Addendum to the "fifth sporty car" - it's possible the collector in this case has more than just five cars, but only five of them are sporty. Feb 4, 2016 at 21:28

It is probably an inside joke as happens in acknowledgements when the author will mention something comical which only the participants would know the meaning of.

a heaping third spoonful of gratitude

is cryptic, but the fact that it's heaping he is trying to express not only very much but more than that

The author is thanking the support of two dear and steadfast friends.
What immediately comes to mind is having coffee or tea where the standard question is

one or two spoons of sugar
one or two lumps

This is implied with third. They might have drunk a lot of coffee together during late night coding or during the completion of the book (assuming this is from a book).


I think its helpful to break the sentence down to its components. A Heaping third spoonful of gratitude. This is two adjectives along with something called a "partitive". The partitive is simple, its just a multi part expression containing a count noun and the word of. A piece of pie, a slice of bread a stack of bills.So the sentence is: adj adj partitive. A large delicious "piece of pie"

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