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Spigot or Spicket?

The word spigot is widely used across the United States as a term for “faucet” or often to refer to a yard hydrant or water pump. In parts of the country, it is clearly pronounced with a hard G sound. But drive an hour south and you might find people saying, “spicket” with a hard K. While neither is more correct than the other, the interesting term has taken on its own variation. According to the Dictionary of American Regional English, “spicket” is more common east of Mississippi but the use of any version of “spigot” is most common in the Appalachians, and in the Middle and Central Atlantic states. The rest of the country is more likely to use the term “faucet” or “tap” rather than “spigot”.

The texture of this compact word is unique. The stress is on the first syllable, but the second is still pretty pronounced, and the word largely hinges on the G (or K). There’s an abrasiveness to it—potentially from having a P, a G, and a T split up and packed into a 6-letter word—that urges a pause afterwards. Ironically, the first definition of the word is for a peg that plugs, but the second is for a faucet of sorts, and one might argue that the harsh way the word is uttered and the subsequent pause calls to mind the first definition, but that whole situation is an interesting relationship. This word, spigot, has an interesting etymology. It is derived from an old French word “espigot” which can mean the core of a fruit or a small ear of grain. The development of this small word can be considered somewhat adventurous for those of us concerned with yard hydrants.

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