Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fiction & Breadmaking

 Fiction & Breadmaking

At first, the etymology of the word fiction doesn’t seem to hold any surprises. The word showed up in English in the 1300s meaning something invented. It came from the French word ficcion, which meant ruse, invention or dissimulation. Ficcion came from the Latin word fictio, a fashioning or feigning.

Nothing particularly unexpected there.

But wait. The Latin word fictio’s source is the Latin verb, fingere,
to devise, form or shape,

& it comes from a Proto-Indo-European verb meaning

to knead
to build,
to form;
all the things one might do with dough.

In fact, through a long series of side-by-side mutations, the word fiction and the word dough come from the same root (as do the words lady & paradise).

It’s the rare writer who’s rolling in the dough (that meaning kicked in about 1851), but the literal side of the breadmaking connection offers some intriguing ways to think about writing fiction:

Bread baking involves simple, everyday ingredients, mixed into something new.

Without leavening, it’s not bread.

It needs to be proofed.

It needs a bunch of manhandling.

It has to rest between stages.

It’s best when shared with others.

Dear followers, what connections have I missed?

My thanks go out to this week’s sources,, take our word, & the OED.


  1. Brilliant analogy. So true. Especially the letting it rest between stages part.

    I'm looking forward to the info on "lady" and "paradise"!

  2. I LOVE to make bread and have been doing so since I was twelve years old. The only thing you missed, was how the kneading process helps to rid one of frustrations. We push, punch, and slam the dough. When we're done and it's rising in a bowl, we feel better. Ahhhh! And we nod our satisfaction of a job well done.

    Keep them coming, Charlie!

  3. Hi Jean Ann & Anne,
    Thanks, once again, for dropping by. I'm with you, Jean Ann -- I've been making bread since I was twenty-ish & it's a regular part of every week (even the slamming part). Anne, whodathunk fiction would be related to bread, lady & paradise? Although I must admit, my paradise would most certainly involve...well, let's not go there.

  4. Brilliant is right! I love this, Charlie!

    ... and no two loaves are alike.

    :- )

  5. Ahoy Mary,
    I'm with you on the uniqueness of each loaf. Ellen gave me the Italian Baker for Christmas & I'm having some kind of fun trying out various Italian breads. Thanks for dropping by & for agreeing with Anne's analogy.