Thursday, August 4, 2022

Language Of Confusion: Cooked

More hot words, all related to cooking, because I am totally broiling right now.
Cook showed up in the late fourteenth century as a verb, and sometime before that as a noun. It’s from the Old English coc, a cook, from the Vulgar Latin cocus and classical Latin coquus, again, just a cook. That’s from the verb coquere, from the Proto Indo European pekw-, to cook or ripen. And I’m totally going to have to etymologize that word because it shows up in a weird number of places.
Boil—as in what liquids do—showed up in the early thirteenth century, and while a boil, like a cyst, might be from the same Proto Indo European root, that’s not definite. Boil comes from the Old French bolir, from the classical Latin bullire, to bubble, from the PIE beu-, to swell. Which does make sense for where the cyst boil would come from, but you know how stupid words can be.
Now don’t go thinking boil is related to broil in any way. That would be ridiculous. Broil showed up in the late fourteenth century from the Old French bruller/brusler. Before that, no one knows, though it might be related to brew or broth. Or who knows? Maybe not.
Roast showed up in the late thirteenth century as a verb and a little later as a noun, coming from the Old French rostir and Frankish hraustjan. Originally roast meant specifically to roast on a gridiron, which is actually why it’s related to Germanic words that mean gridiron or grate. Kind of makes sense.
Sear comes from the Middle English seren and Old English searian, to dry up or shrivel plants. Yes, it had to do with plants before it became something you do to meat, which actually came about because of cauterizing wounds. Try to keep that out of your head the next time you’re eating a seared steak. Anyway, it’s from the Proto Germanic saurajan. It’s also unsurprisingly related to the word sere, which is from the Old English sear (really!), from the Proto Germanic sauzas and Proto Indo European saus-, meaning dry.
Finally today, singe comes from the Old English sengan, which is from the Proto Germanic sanjanan. Not much else to say about this one, though some people do think it’s related to sing, from the notion that singeing something produces a sound. Do you find that as stupid as I do?
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
University of Texas at Arlington
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Old English-English Dictionary
Encyclopaedia Britannica


  1. Well, since I don't really like steak seared or otherwise, I think I'll be safe. (It's a beef thing. My stomach is not a fan of beef generally.)

  2. I'm going to guess that cook and ripen are related because it's heat that causes a lot (maybe all?) fruits and veggies to ripen.


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