[puhm-per-nik-uh l]


a coarse, dark, slightly sour bread made of unbolted rye.

Origin of pumpernickel

1750–60; < German Pumpernickel orig., an opprobrious name for anyone considered disagreeable, equivalent to pumper(n) to break wind + Nickel hypocoristic from of Nikolaus Nicholas (cf. nickel); presumably applied to the bread from its effect on the digestive system
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pumpernickel

Historical Examples of pumpernickel

  • Pumpernickel cut in slices, dried in an oven and rolled fine may also be used.

    Desserts and Salads

    Gesine Lemcke

  • There was also a great dish of pumpernickel besides the usual food.

    Pointed Roofs

    Dorothy Richardson

  • "I am glad to know you," said I, as Pumpernickel introduced us.

    Over the Plum Pudding

    John Kendrick Bangs

  • A person who lives in a tower of porcelain and dines on pumpernickel and lobscouse.

  • I am going to visit the old haunts of my youth at Pumpernickel.

    Men's Wives

    William Makepeace Thackeray

British Dictionary definitions for pumpernickel



a slightly sour black bread, originating in Germany, made of coarse rye flour

Word Origin for pumpernickel

C18: from German, of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for pumpernickel

"dark rye bread," 1756, pompernickel, from German (Westphalian dialect) Pumpernickel (1663), originally an abusive nickname for a stupid person, from pumpern "to break wind" + Nickel "goblin, lout, rascal," from proper name Niklaus (see Nicholas). An earlier German name for it was krankbrot, literally "sick-bread."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper