To eat humble pie is to admit one's mistakes, to be embarrassed for one's actions. So, consequentially, it comes from the word humble, meaning "modest", right? Wrong. Humble as in humble pie has quite different origins. Tracing back to the Proto-Indo-European word lendh, meaning "loin of meat". Passing through Proto-Italic as londwos, this became lumbus in Latin, still meaning "loin". This was conjugated into lumulus, which had a heavy influence on the development of the French word nombles, specifically referring to "beef, veal, or venison". Since French people really don't put enough stress on their first syllables like us Germanic speakers, the n- got dropped in favor of the new word umble, pertaining to the undesirable parts on the inside of an animal. Since nobody liked eating umbles, but poor people had to, eating umble pie became a term meaning that you have a modest background. Eventually some prankster in the nineteenth century decided to make a pun about umble pie. The whole phrase described a humble background, and umble sounds like humble, so why not add an h-? Thus we get our term humble pie, which etymologically speaking should be numble pie.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.