What does the word sherbet mean to you? Do you think it’s a sweet fizzy powder you can dilute in water or put on sweets like lollipops? Is it an icy dessert for you, similar to ice cream? Or maybe it’s just a funny way of saying beer? If you’ve traveled enough of the anglophone world, you’d see that sherbet can be all three of these things, and maybe even a couple of others. What it can never be is sherbert, a common misspelling of the word sherbet.
What Is Sherbet?
In different parts of the world, the word sherbet (SHER-but or SHER-bit) refers to different kinds of food or beverages, usually desserts:
In South and West Asia, the word sharbat is used along with sherbet, and it signifies a cooling drink made out of water, flower petals, and fruit juices:
Ganga Dussehra also symbolises the peaking of summer and hence devotees distribute lassi, sharbat, shikanji and rose milk in various places.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
—T.S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi”
In the United Kingdom, sherbet is a fizzy powder that can be diluted in water to create a drink, or it can be used as a topping on other sweets:
In the past it was a noble and exotic drink, now it’s sometimes an icy dessert and commonly a sweet fizzy powder. What form do your sherbet memories take?
For a super sweet treat, share out these lemon lollies dipped in homemade zingy lemon sherbet.
In the United States, sherbet is a frozen dessert similar to the British water ice and the French sorbet:
For the uninitiated, a Rainbow Cone consists of the colorful combination of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla with walnuts and cherries) and pistachio ice creams topped with orange sherbet, as a palate cleanser.
They had been discovered and shot from behind. Now they were dying in the snow, feeling nothing, turning the snow into the color of raspberry sherbet. So it goes.
—Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
Sherbet is sometimes used as an euphemism for beer in the UK and Australia:
Campaigning continued in the Royal Oak pub just off the Market Place. Mr Farage later tweeted he had gone in for a sherbet to thank local UKIP activists.
The Origin of Sherbet
To find the origin of the word sherbet, you’d have to go back to where the popular dessert/sweet powder/refreshing drink originated—the Middle East. The Arabic word šarba, which literally means a drink, is where the word sherbet comes from. It came to English in the early seventeenth century through the Turkish şerbet, which is a form of the Persian šerbet, itself a derivation from the original Arabic word. Sorbet has the same Arabic root.
from Grammarly Blog https://www.grammarly.com/blog/sherbet-sherbert/