Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Soupy Entry

I had planned to write about pronouns today, but I read something a few minutes ago that changed my plans. I was reading a blog entry about The Sir John Soane's Museum in London (on my list of "places to visit" when I go to London) and the phrase hotch-potch was used to describe the sculpture in the basement of the home. It struck me that I had never wondered before what the difference is, if any, between hotch-potch and hodge-podge, so assuming you would be just as interested as I am, I decided to write about that instead.

I had a feeling that hodge-podge is what we Americans are more familiar with and that I would find that hotch-potch is older and probably used more by the English.

I first checked my trusty OED to see what it says about hotch-potch. The word is not there. The word hotch-pot is there, and I found that the earliest use of this word in print was by Chaucer in the 14th century with a meaning of "mixture" or "medley", specifically in cookery by the 15th century. In the 16th century it became a legal term meaning "collation of properties to secure equality of division." It is of Anglo-Norman origin, from Old French hochepot, from the French words hocher (shake) and pot (pot). Shaking the pot -- I like that. I'm imagining a stew of whatever I have in the refrigerator all shaken and cooked together. By steady progression the word evolved into hotchpotch, altered by "rhyming assimilation" in the 15th century, and finally hodge-podge sometime in the 17th century. When I looked up hodge-podge the OED told me to "see hotch-pot". So that is that.

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary gives as the first definition of hotch-potch "a thick soup or stew of vegetables, potatoes, and usually meat", and as "hodgepodge {one word}, a noun meaning 'a heterogeneous mixture', synoymous with jumble". The second definition given is "hotchpot", a word in English law, with the legal meaning given in the above paragraph. Merriam-Webster lists the word's origin as dating from 1538 (16th century), which is in disagreement with the OED of Etymology.

I just thought this was rather interesting and that I would share. Hope you enjoyed it!

3 comments:

ADB said...

Can tell you that there is a word in Dutch "hutspot", referring to a dish of boiled carrots, potatoes and onions, all mashed together. Perhaps the hotch-potch is derived from that

Karen said...

fun reading...love to read about word origins...in Yiddush the word would be 'shitarhine' when discussing a recipe. The mixture is a hodge podge of ingredients.

DB said...

You mean all these years I was making a hotch-pot and didn't realize it?

Wow! DB