Word of the Day

Shrove Tuesday

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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the Tuesday in February or March that is the last day before the start of Lent

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The term Shrove Tuesday has been used in English since the 16th century. Shrove is a past tense form of the verb to shrive, which means to listen to someone’s confession and offer forgiveness.


Today is Shrove Tuesday, a festivity in the Christian church that precedes the start on Ash Wednesday of the penitential period of Lent, which ends with Easter. Shrove Tuesday got its name from the fact that believers would confess their sins and receive absolution (or be shriven) as a preparation for Lent. It is a British term; the usual American term is Mardi Gras, a French expression that translates as ‘fat Tuesday’. Shrove Tuesday was traditionally the occasion for using up animal products before the fasting of Lent, pancakes being an excellent way of using up eggs and fat. The day is more generally known nowadays as Pancake Day and the tradition of making and eating pancakes continues to flourish. In many countries, Shrove Tuesday is also the last day of carnival.


“Someone who eats pancakes and jam can’t be so awfully dangerous. You can talk to him.”
(Tove Jansson, Finn Family Moomintroll)

“Everything can have drama if it’s done right. Even a pancake.”
(Julia Child, cookery writer)

Related words

Ash Wednesday, Lent, Mardi Gras, carnival, pancake

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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