Thursday, August 11, 2022

Language Of Confusion: Cooked, Kind Of, Part I

I’m still really hot. August is killing me. So we’re looking at words related to the Proto Indo European pekw-, to cook or ripen (AKA the origin of cook).
Kitchen showed up in the thirteenth century, from the Old English cycene, which is just kitchen, and I think at least that first C used to be pronounced with the K sound. It’s from the Proto Germanic kokina, which is thought to be from the Vulgar Latin cocina, and I mean, it’d be a hell of a coincidence if it wasn’t, but that stuff happens all the time in etymology. Anyway, that’s from the classical Latin coquina, kitchen, from coquere, to cook, which is from pekw-.
Cuisine showed up fairly recently, in 1786, coming directly from the French cuisine, which means kitchen or cooking. It’s from the Late Latin cocina, which is from the coquina, so the same place as kitchen. Well, probably.
Culinary showed up in the early seventeenth century meaning related to kitchens and cooking, so the same thing it does today. It’s from the classical Latin culinarius, also just culinary, from culina, another word for kitchen, and directly from coquere. The Etymology Dictionary actually calls the word an unexplained variant! I just find that hilarious. I mean, most of these variants are unexplained unless by stretching common sense.
A kiln is an oven, of course, and it was once even used for food, so no surprise here. It comes from the Old English cyln/cylen, which just means kiln, and… that word is from culina. Wow, these words are a lot more interwoven than usual.
Finally today, something that is food rather than something about food preparation. Biscuit showed up in the sixteenth century, though it was spelled “bisket” until the nineteenth century, which really makes way more sense as a spelling. It comes from the Old French bescuit and Old Italian biscotto (you know, biscotti’s origin), from the Medieval Latin biscoctum, which means… twice baked. Seriously. It’s from the Latin phrase panis bis coctus, literally translated to “twice baked bread”. Bis is twice, coctus means cooked and is from coquere. Fun fact, biscuits were universally hard, dry, thin cakes until 1818, when the US decided it meant soft rolls, because of course they did.
Online Etymology Dictionary
Google Translate
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Old English-English Dictionary
Dictionary of Medieval Latin
Encyclopaedia Britannica
Orbis Latinus
Timeline of Italian Language by Dilit


  1. I guess we just didn't like breaking our teeth on those hard biscuits.

  2. I've been watching Good Eats repeats, and they had the twice cooked tidbit. When I saw it I thought of you.


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