Etymology
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friable (adj.)

"easily crumbled or pulverized; easily reduced to powder," 1560s, from French friable (16c.) and directly from Latin friabilis "easily crumbled or broken," from friare "rub away, crumble into small pieces," related to fricare "to rub" (see friction). Related: Friability. "Confusion between the common word meaning crumbly & the -able adjective from fry is not likely enough to justify the irregular spelling fryable for the latter ...." [Fowler].

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frivolous (adj.)
mid-15c., from Latin frivolus "silly, empty, trifling, worthless," diminutive of *frivos "broken, crumbled," from friare "break, rub away, crumble" (see friable). In law (by 1736), "so clearly insufficient as to need no argument to show its weakness." Related: Frivolously; frivolousness.
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mealy-mouthed (adj.)

"afraid to say what one really thinks," 1570s; first element perhaps from Old English milisc "sweet," from Proto-Germanic *meduz "honey" (see mead (n.1)), which suits the sense, but if the Old English word did not survive long enough to be the source of this, perhaps the first element is from meal (n.2) on notion of the "softness" of ground flour (compare Middle English melishe (adj.) "friable, loose," used of soils). Related: Mealy-mouth.

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shortening (n.)

1540s, "action of making short," verbal noun from shorten.

The meaning "butter or other fat or oil used in baking" (by 1796) is from shorten in the cookery sense "make crumbly," attested by 1733. This is from short (adj.) in a secondary sense in reference to food, "friable, easily crumbled," attested by early 15c. in cookery books.

Hence short pastry, in full shortcrust pastry, that to which lard or butter has been added to make it soft and flaky. This also is the short in shortbread and shortcake. Also shortening bread (by 1884), a U.S. Southern specialty.

Short (adj.) as "easily crumbled" also has been applied to things other than food, and this use of it perhaps implies "having short fibers," as materials with short fibers fall apart more easily (e.g. short-staple cotton).

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