Cobbler
Posted: 23 December 2012 06:56 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Entry for cobbler on Dictionary.com Unabridged (Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2012. )

1.
a person who mends shoes.
2.
a deep-dish fruit pie with a rich biscuit crust, usually only on top.
3.
an iced drink made of wine or liquor, fruits, sugar, etc.
4.
a fabric rejected because of defective dyeing or finishing.
5.
a mummichog.

Apparently 1. is the original sense.
How did these other not very cobbler-like things come to be known as cobblers? I don’t really see an obvious connection.

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Posted: 24 December 2012 03:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The OED entry for cobbler, which isn’t among the fully updated ones, says of the iced drink sense:  ‘The origin of this appears to be lost; various conjectures are current, e.g. that it is short for cobbler’s punch, and that it ‘patches up’ the drinkers’. Dickens knew cobbler’s punch, which according to the OED was ‘a warm drink of beer or ale with the addition of spirit, sugar, and spice.’

It lists the ‘fruit dessert’ sense as ‘US Western’ but offers no opinions as to its derivation. The Wikipedia entry for Cobbler_(food) offers this:

Cobblers originated in the early British American colonies. English settlers were unable to make traditional suet puddings due to lack of suitable ingredients and cooking equipment, so instead covered a stewed filling with a layer of uncooked plain biscuits or dumplings, fitted together. When fully cooked, the surface has the appearance of a cobbled street. The name may also derive from the fact that the ingredients are “cobbled” together.

The OED doesn’t know the ‘reject cloth’ and ‘mummichog’ (thanks for the new word, I had to go and look that up) senses at all. But as two senses of the verb to cobble are ‘to mend clumsily’ or ‘to botch’, I suppose it’s possible that the textile sense arose because the cloth looked crudely mended, or just botched.

The OED gives one further sense: ’horse chestnut pierced and used for the game of conkers’. My guess is that this sense is related to cobble in the sense ‘pebble’, the more so as one of the quotations given for this sense says (from D H Lawrence) says ‘He pulled from his pocket a black old horse-chestnut hanging on a string. This old cobbler had ‘cobbled’—hit and smashed—seventeen other cobblers’.

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Posted: 24 December 2012 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Syntinen Laulu - 24 December 2012 03:13 AM

It lists the ‘fruit dessert’ sense as ‘US Western’ but offers no opinions as to its derivation. The Wikipedia entry for Cobbler_(food) offers this:


Cobblers originated in the early British American colonies. English settlers were unable to make traditional suet puddings due to lack of suitable ingredients and cooking equipment, so instead covered a stewed filling with a layer of uncooked plain biscuits or dumplings, fitted together. When fully cooked, the surface has the appearance of a cobbled street. The name may also derive from the fact that the ingredients are “cobbled” together.

Etymonline has this for the fruit dessert sense.  No hint as to how it jumped from the 14th century to mid 19th western US.

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Posted: 24 December 2012 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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While I don’t have any direct evidence, I feel pretty safe in assuming that all of these nouns come from the verb “to cobble.” (Well, maybe not mummichog.)

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