Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a hot food made from oatmeal and milk or water, often eaten at breakfast

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The noun porridge is a variant of ‘pottage’, an old word meaning a thick soup or stew. Porridge was used with this meaning before it was first used to refer to the dish made from oats, in the mid 17th century.


Tomorrow is World Porridge Day, an annual celebration of one of Scotland’s most famous dishes as well as an opportunity to raise money for a charity that aims to feed children in some of the world’s poorest countries. Ways of preparing and eating porridge vary: some swear by the original Scottish method of cooking the oats in water and flavouring them with salt, while others add sugar or honey, cream, fruit, and other additions. Porridge is the British term; American English uses oatmeal, which in British English refers only to the crushed grains. Some people like to stir their porridge with a spurtle, a pointed wooden implement said to prevent the formation of lumps. In British slang, porridge means ‘prison’ and was the title of a popular sitcom starring the comedian Ronnie Barker as an old lag and Richard Beckinsale as his naive cellmate.


The family ate porridge, and believed in everything, even the weather forecast.

“Nothing in this world is as it seems. Except, possibly, porridge.”
(Stephen Fry)

Related words

cereal, continental breakfast, cooked breakfast, fry-up, muesli

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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