Wow! Not only is the etymology of pudding rife with fascinating semantic change, but it violates linguistic laws as well! As early as the fourteenth century, it was spelled poding and meant "sausage". How did this shift in definition occur? The first puddings were boiled in bags much resembling a sausage in a skin, and people couldn't resist applying that meaning. Eventually the "sausage" definition faded away. Now, it's extremely rare for a French b to English p switch to occur among the first letters, but pudding does it anyway, tracing back to French boudin. What a rebel. Boudin is from the Latin word botellus, meaning "a small sausage", from botulus, regular "sausage". This has been reconstructed as deriving from the theorized Proto-Indo-European root gwet, a "swelling". Seriously, though, pudding is an etymological gold mine! Or should I say sausage?
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