Repast and Repaste

By Maeve Maddox

The old-fashioned word repast, meaning a meal, is still used by modern speakers, but rarely and self-consciously. Its rarity may explain the fact that many writers who do use it don’t know how to spell it.

Here are some examples the misspelling of repast found in print and online:

• And don’t the Bedouin fry locusts in oil for a tasty repaste?
• we steered our sturdy craft to dock at a charming little riverside sandwich shop for a tasty repaste and a break from the ride.
• Two wild pigs provided a tasty repaste for about 25 folks
• enjoying a tasty repaste of four Quaker Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip granola bars

The spelling and pronunciation of the noun repast conform to modern English spelling conventions. The letter a between consonants represents the short vowel sound, /æ/ as in past. Adding an e to the end of the word changes the short a to a long a, /eɪ/ as in paste.

The spelling repaste does exist for two verbs.

1. repaste: verb. paste again.
Say you’ve made a collage by pasting flowers and leaves to a piece of cardboard. What do you do if it starts falling apart? You repaste the bits that have fallen off.

2. repaste: verb. replace the thermal glue between the CPU and the heatsink in your computer.

I’m on shaky ground here, but I’ll try to explain this one for fellow nongeeks.

While cruising the web looking for incorrect spellings of repast, I discovered that computer gamers are concerned about the necessity to “repaste.”

Computers contain something called a heatsink that draws heat away from the CPU (Central Processing Unit). The CPU and the heatsink are separated by a viscous substance called thermal grease or thermal paste that improves the efficiency of the heat sink by filling any tiny gaps that might exist.

As I understand it, computer gaming generates a lot of heat and sometimes the thermal paste dries up, becoming less effective. A gamer “repastes” by opening the computer, scraping off the dried paste and replacing it with fresh. Other terms for the viscous material are thermal gel, thermal compound, heat paste, heat sink paste and heat sink compound.

Bottomline: If you’re writing about food, spell it repast.

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8 Responses to “Repast and Repaste”

  • Barbara Youree

    I had to LOL at the examples of incorrect usage in the expression: “tasty repaste” . I imagined all those folks enjoying for a second time—a high from the paste fumes! Hmmm….

  • Heather

    It might help to remember that “repas” in French is “meal.”

  • Nelida K.

    Thanks for the techno explanation, which I, being a confessed nongeek nongamer specimen, :), was totally ignorant about.

  • ApK

    Why does the tech use of the term warrant a separate definition?

    It still just means “paste again.”
    Why does it matter if we’re talking thermal paste or library paste or hitting ctrl-v on the keyboard?

  • Dale A. Wood

    I agree with ApK. “Repaste” just means to “paste again” or “apply more paste”, or roughly, “glue again”.

  • Dale A. Wood

    “The letter a between consonants represents the short vowel sound, /æ/ as in past. Adding an e to the end of the word changes the short a to a long a.”

    Surely you mean “consonant sounds”, because “st” is two consonants, but it is generally one consonant sound, as in
    baste, beast cast, dust, fast, gust, haste, just, last, mast, must, past, rust, sting, string, taste, test, vast, vest, waste, waist, and yeast.

    Exceptions to these have the s and the t in separate syllables, such as in Hastings, hasty, casting, dusty, gusty, musty, nasty, pasty, rusty, sister, tasty, testing. I had to include Hastings because of the famous Battle of Hastings during the Norman Conquest. There is also the town of Hastings, Nebraska.

    English is not a language like Spanish, in which ll and rr are treated as extra consonants, or Dutch, in which ij is treated as an extra vowel.
    In the days of typewriters, you could even get a typewriter with a separate key for ij. Handy for words like Nijmegan. Dutch even has some words that begin with ij, such as Ijsselmeer – Lake Ijssel in English. That might be the only one that is a proper noun.

    In Spanish, “pero” and “perro” are both common two-syllable words, but they look different and they sound different because in Spanish “rr” is a consonant” that sounds different from “r”. “Perro” means “dog” in English, and I will leave it up to you to look up what “pero” means. I think that it is a conjunction.
    D.A.W.

  • Maeve Maddox

    ApK and Dale:
    I have to disagree that the tech repaste “just means ‘paste again.’” It means “open your computer, scrape off the dried gel, reapply fresh gel and close up your computer.”

    If I were to write an article about the uses of paste, I’d have a separate definition for paste in the sense of “hitting ctrl-v on the keyboard.”

  • Maeve Maddox

    Dale,
    More precisely, I was writing about the vowel of a closed syllable. Every syllable has a vowel. When the syllable ends in a consonant, the vowel has its short sound- but, past. When the closed syllable is also a one-syllable word, adding e changes the vowel’s short sound to long, as in paste. Usually.

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