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15 Pudding Cups of British Pudding Terms and Idioms

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In the U.S., pudding has a relatively small life, nutritionally and lexically. But when you look back at jolly old England, this seemingly one-dimensional word has lived a vibrant life in metaphors and idioms. This word’s versatility was foreshadowed by its history: Originally, it referred to entrails, not dessert. Over time, pudding has referred to sausage, fireworks, ropes, clowns, penises, bombs, dummies, fetuses, and, of course, the sweet dessert the word signifies today. That diversity of meanings has spawned plenty of idioms that are ripe for American adaptation.

1. IN THE PUDDING CLUB

This term, which dates back to the late 1800s, refers to being pregnant. A pregnant woman can also be in the pudding class or pudding way. Why pudding? It’s related to the expression pudding in the oven, which is more often a bun among Yanks.

2. PUDDING HOUSE

On a similar note, pudding house has occasionally meant the belly, as seen in a Thomas Nashe use from 1596: “What a commotion there was in his entrayles or pudding-house for want of food.” In other words, “Your stomach’s rumbling so loud it scared Odin’s ravens.”

3. AND 4. PUDDING CART AND PUDDING PIT

These sound about as delicious as a cart and pit could be, but don’t be fooled: A pudding cart hauls garbage or animal guts, and the pudding pit is where such gross stuff gets tossed. These meanings have been around since the 1500s.

5. NOT WORTH A PUDDING

Since the 1500s, this has been an alternative to “not worth a damn.” Here’s a 1602 example collected by the Oxford English Dictionary: “These youths of the parish, that are so spruse in their apparell, haue little money in their purses, and their verses and their tales, are not worth a pudding for our trade.” The sense of pudding as offal was definitely intended.

6. PUDDING-SHAPED

When things go pear-shaped, they’ve gone sideways—in other words, badly. A 2004 Daily Star article includes a rare synonym: “Cambridge's season is going distinctly pudding-shaped following the dismissal of French misfit Herve Renard.”

7. PUDDING-EATER

This term has usually been literal, but it has had a few derogatory senses, and, according to Green’s Dictionary of Slang, one professional sense: pimp.

8. PUDDING-ALE

This rare term, spotted around 1400, refers to crappy ale. If you can imagine a beer with the consistency of pudding, you’d likely swear off beer forever. Or, maybe, look for a spoon.

9. A PUDDING OF A ______

As far back as the late 1700s, this has been a way to say, “That man, woman, child, or beast is huge.” As far back as the late 1700s, you can find descriptions such as, “A great fat pudding boy.” Besides plus-size-ness, this expression can also indicate idiocy.

10., 11., AND 12. PUDDING AND GRAVY, PUDDING CHEF, PUDDING AND PIES

Cockney rhyming slang is a huge assortment of clever, covert terms, like when apples and pears refers to stairs. Green’s Dictionary of Slang collects several rhyming terms from the pudding shelf, such as pudding and gravy, which has referred to the British Royal Navy since at least 1972. Also, if you’re pudding chef, you’re deaf, which puts a lot of pressure on your pudding and pies: eyes.

13. CAKE AND PUDDING

This refers to any good thing, but especially money. A 1643 OED example suggests trading blasphemy for bucks: “You courted God for caikes and pudding.” That’s a no-no in any holy book other than the Pastry Bible.

14. PUDDINGY

This word has the look of an internet coinage, but some things have been called puddingy since the 1700s. It turned up in an 1825 New Monthly Magazine article in a description that would be considered hurtful today, or any day: “A face ruddy, plump and puddingy.” This word is one of many proofs that, in English, there is almost nothing to which the suffix –y will not stick.

15. PUDDING TIME

Back in the 1500s, this term had the literal meaning of that blessed time when pudding was served. Later, pudding time referred to any lucky or fortuitous time. To come in pudding time was to arrive at the perfect time. English essayist Joseph Addison explained the saying back in 1716: “The ordinary Salutation is, Sir, I am glad to see you, you are come in Pudding-time.” Though they come from different sections of the menu, pudding times are later remembered as salad days.

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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language
Here's the Right Way to Pronounce Kitchenware Brand Le Creuset

If you were never quite sure how to pronounce the name of beloved French kitchenware brand Le Creuset, don't fret: For the longest time, southern chef, author, and PBS personality Vivian Howard wasn't sure either.

In this video from Le Creuset, shared by Food & Wine, Howard prepares to sear some meat in her bright orange Le Creuset pot and explains, "For the longest time I had such a crush on them but I could never verbalize it because I didn’t know how to say it and I was so afraid of sounding like a big old redneck." Listen closely as she demonstrates the official, Le Creuset-endorsed pronunciation at 0:51.

Le Creuset is known for its colorful, cast-iron cookware, which is revered by pro chefs and home cooks everywhere. The company first introduced their durable pots to the world in 1925. Especially popular are their Dutch ovens, which are thick cast-iron pots that have been around since the 18th century and are used for slow-cooking dishes like roasts, stews, and casseroles.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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