Origin of the Term "Hodgepodge"

Posted on 24 Nov 2013 17:05

Meaning of Hodgepodge

Hodgepodge has come to mean any mixture of things that are not really meant to go together, but it originally referred to a soup of all sorts of ill-suited ingredients jumbled together in a pot.

In other words, it is a soup that you just threw together with whatever you had on hand, whether the ingredients were harmonious or not.

Hodgepodge Etymology

Dating back to the 14th century, there is an earlier form of hodgepodge, hotchpotch, that is still used in Britain, and this is a form of the Middle English hotchpot, which before that was hochepot.

The origin of hodgepodge is ulimately French, however. The Middle English Hochepot derived from the same word in French, and was formed from the verb hocher, meaning "to shake," and pot which meant the same thing in French as it does in English: a large, deep pan for cooking.

So, the word referred to a stew with a whole bunch of different ingredients all "shaken" together in a pot.

There are still recipes called hodgepodge or hotchpot, today, and the original terms have been extended to refer to any unlikely jumble of elements.

As you can see, the evolution of the words reflects a rhyming scheme. This is something that happens, time and again, when word combos are just close enough to each other to make a rhyming alteration convenient. The tends to happen unconsciously.

Although the original version of the word, hotchpot was culinary, the alterations of the word to hotchpotch, and to hodgepodge did not retain this culinary beginning.

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