Eating Your Words

The fascinating origins of everyday culinary words and phrases

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via e-mail

All content on Eating Your Words is copyright © Alvin Scott 2013-2016. All rights reserved.

Links to this page may be made without asking permission.


Food glorious food!

Everything but the kitchen sink

Keep the pot boiling

Out of the frying pan

Salad days  

In the soup!

Cook one’s goose  

Give us a butchers!   

What a sauce!

A sandwich short of a picnic

Feeling groggy           

Just my cup of tea

Look to your laurels   

The spice of life      

In a nutshell   


View on a mobile


The meaning and origin of the words related to cooking in an oven

The words bake and roast may be used to describe the same method of cooking: i.e. in an oven using dry heat. However their use differs relating to the item that is being cooked in this manner. The term baking is usually reserved for bread, cakes and biscuits whilst roasting is used for meat and vegetables with the items being laid in melted fat.

The word bake derives from the Old English bacan, which is also the origin of the word batch meaning a group or a quantity produced at the same time. Batch originally described the process of baking. This developed into meaning a quantity of bread that was produced at a single baking. The term has survived to this day in relation to bread. ‘Batch’ loaves are baked along with a number of their kind in a single, large tin. This results in them lacking a crust on at least one side due to the sides of the loaves meeting inside the tin. The loaves thus retain the meaning of a quantity of bread produced at a single baking. The expansion of the word to mean an amount of any goods produced at one time is thought to have occurred during the 17th century.   

Something that is put into practice before it has been properly thought out is often referred to metaphorically speaking as being half-baked, from the allusion to something being removed from the oven well before it has been cooked fully with the result that it is not fit to be used.

If you rule the roost you are in total control over others. The saying is generally assumed to originate from a cockerel being boss of his hens when roosting but originally the saying was 'rule the roast', presumably in reference to the master of a feast being in charge of proceedings. Rule the roast was in common use for two centuries before the modern version appeared in the mid 18th century.

Continue to …

Out of the frying pan