Ratatouille is most famous in America for the 2007 movie, which uses the final dish served as a kind of pun for all the rats in the movie. However, the origin is far from the gutters. Since ratatouille is a dish from southern France, the word comes from (dialectal) Occitan ratatolha. At the start of this word is an unidentifiable prefix rat- or tat-, which doesn't have much research on it, so we don't know much about it. The root, however, we are pretty sure of: it's from the French word touiller (after the late 1700s, it just meant "coarse stew", and by today the definition narrowed down even more). Touiller derives from the Latin verb tudiculere, meaning "mix" and coming from tudes, meaning "hammer" (I guess hammers can mix things up). Tudes in turn may be reconstructed to Proto-Indo-European stew, meaning "to push". It's ironic that the word for a type of stew comes from a word sounding like stew and quite scintillating that it once meant "hammer".
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd