Discover The Origins Of These Cooking Tool Names

It’s Thanksgiving and steaming plates of homemade fare are streaming out of the kitchen. Festive dishes and fancy tableware are making their first appearance of the holiday season. Everything looks so lovely …

Then, a moment of awkwardness: your great aunt is to your left, your mother to the right, you’re on your best behavior, and you need that … whatchamacallit passed to you. Well, don’t sweat it. To be honest, it’s easy to get stumped by cooking tool terminology.

But if you’re a regular reader of, you’ll know exactly what to say each and every time. These common cooking tools and cookware have names and now you’ll know them as soon as you see them at a table near you.


With the parade of food making its way to the dining room, how do you spare your poor table from all that sizzling food?

The trusty trivet, of course!

A trivet is a small metal plate, often with three short legs, that is put under a hot dish to protect the table. Tripes means “three-footed” in Latin, from the roots tri- (“three”) and pes- (“foot”), though nowadays some trivets don’t have any legs at all.


When you want just a dollop of cranberry sauce, there’s no need to fill a whole bowl; just reach for a ramekin!

This small dish in which food can be baked or served graces many Thanksgiving tables. The word’s origin comes from both French as ramequin and Middle Dutch as rammeken.


The French word carafe actually comes from the Arabic word gharrafah meaning “dipper” or “drinking vessel.”

Today a carafe can be any wide-mouthed bottle with a lip or spout for serving beverages.

Holding everything from cider to eggnog, carafes have been helping diners quench their thirst and keep their seats for centuries: “No, don’t get up. We have a carafe right here!”

Now that you’ve poured the drinks, flip to the next slide to serve the soup.


A ladle is a long-handled utensil with a cup-shaped bowl for conveying liquids.

The word originates from the Old English hladan meaning “to load,” but the suffix -le turned what once was a verb into a noun: specifically, a tool or appliance (like the word handle).

Alright, you’ve successfully poured the soup. But where is it coming from?


This elegant word developed from the French terrine, meaning “earthenware dish.” In this way it shares a common ancestor (terrin, “of the earth”) with terrain.

Defined today as a large, deep, covered dish for serving soup, stew, or other foods, tureen first made its debut in English in the 1700s and has remained a great word for “soup pot.”


But can you serve stuffing in a tureen? Find out the difference in the names stuffing and dressing here!


Though this word may be more exciting when it follows roller, the solitary coaster is no less thrilling when it comes to table protection.

A coaster is a small dish, tray, or mat made especially for placing under a glass to protect a table from moisture. The word actually originates from the Anglo-French costien meaning “to skirt, to go around the sides.” What does skirting have to do with table protection?

Spelling quiz on thanksgiving history

When coasters burst on the scene in the late 1880s, the little device was named for its resemblance to a sled, because it coasted around the table.


Searching for something to hold the olive oil? Grab a cruet!

A cruet is a glass bottle or small container for holding table condiments like oil, vinegar, and even salt and pepper. From the Old French crue, meaning “flask,” cruets can come in all shapes and sizes.


The quintessential piece of Thanksgiving crockery, the casserole is a baking dish made of glass, pottery, etc., usually with a cover. The word comes from the French casse meaning “small pan.”

But since the 1950s, the word casserole has not only referred to the dish itself but also to anything cooked inside it.


You’ve mastered these terms, so let’s see if you’re a cookware connoisseur now with this quiz on dinner table items. Then read about the cooking terms everyone needs in order to prepare for Thanksgiving, or any resplendent meal.

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