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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a sweet food made by mixing small pieces of dried fruit and spices

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The noun mincemeat is formed from the verb ‘mince’ and the noun ‘meat’ and was originally ‘minced meat’. It was first used in its current form in the 17th century and with its current meaning in the early 19th century.


Sweet mincemeat, which is used to make mince pies, is not to be confused with the other meaning of the term, the second sense in the Macmillan Dictionary entry. This second type is often referred to simply as mince in British English; the American term is ground beef. Mincemeat (in meaning one) contains no meat, though it often did in the past and may still contain suet. Like other traditional Christmas treats such as Christmas cake and Christmas pudding, sweet mincemeat consists largely of dried fruit, a relic of the days when fresh fruit was in short supply in the winter although apples, another common ingredient, were stored for months. While not to everyone’s taste, mince pies are for many people an inextricable part of the seasonal celebrations. To make mincemeat of someone is to defeat them decisively.


Spoon the mincemeat into the pies.
(mince pie recipe)

Try making your mincemeat well in advance of Christmas to give the flavours maximum time to mature.

“They’ve got a quality forward, who will make mincemeat of that Rangers defence.
(enTenTen15 corpus)

Related Words

Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, yule log

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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