Word of the Day


Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


1. (British) a type of small flat dry cake that is usually sweet and round

2. (American) a small round soft bread roll

3. a light brown colour

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun biscuit comes from the Old French word ‘bescoit’, and is related to similar words in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian meaning ‘twice baked’. It was first used in English in the 14th century and was spelled in a number of different ways before becoming fixed in its current form in the 19th century.


Yesterday was National Biscuit Day in the UK, so here – two days late – is a post on what can sometimes seem like a national obsession. It should be noted first of all that what British English calls a biscuit, American English calls a cookie, and that in American English a biscuit is a type of bread roll, meaning 2 above. ‘Cookie’ is also used in British English, however, to refer to a soft type of biscuit, often with chunks of fruit, nuts or chocolate in it. Surveys are regularly held to determine the nation’s favourite biscuit, and the results always spark animated discussion, especially if the top spot goes to something that many people do not regard as a biscuit at all. Another recent survey placed the milk chocolate digestive in top place, a less controversial choice. Another topic for discussion is which biscuits are best for dunking in tea, and surveys have been conducted to discover which biscuits best withstand this treatment. If something takes the biscuit, it is the most silly, stupid, or annoying thing in a series of such things.


“Money can’t buy you love, but it can get you some really good chocolate ginger biscuits.”
(Dylan Moran)

“A positive attitude and a sense of humor go together like biscuits and gravy.”
(Dolly Parton)

Related words

brandy snap, chocolate chip cookie, digestive biscuit, ginger nut, shortbread, wafer

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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