Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


an Italian food made from flour and water, and sometimes eggs

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The noun pasta comes from the Italian ‘pasta’ which itself came from Latin. It has been used in English since the late 19th century.


Sunday was World Pasta Day, an event aimed at encouraging appreciation and enjoyment of this endlessly versatile food that has been running since 1995. Pasta is an ancient food whose roots can be traced back to several different cultures but these days it is indelibly associated with Italy, where it has been eaten since the 13th century at least. While the story that Marco Polo brought pasta from China is almost certainly a myth, Italy’s place at the centre of Mediterranean trade ensured that pasta spread widely from its homeland. Italian immigrants brought it with them to the US, while it has become a staple of the UK diet since its first widespread introduction in the 1950s. Macmillan Dictionary contains entries for many different types of pasta, some of them illustrated. Pasta comes in so many different shapes and sizes that it would be a challenge to include them all in any dictionary, but if your favourite type is not included in this list then you might like to add an entry for it here.


“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”
(Federico Fellini)

It’s a comfort to always find pasta in the cupboard and garlic and parsley in the garden.”
(Alice Waters)

Related words

couscous, noodles, pizza, polenta

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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