Q From Steve Ellis: When I looked up the phrase piping hot in a dictionary, it gave the definition ‘very hot’. When I looked up piping, I didn’t find any such sense. Can you elaborate?
A The sense of piping that’s relevant here is the one for making a musical sound, as by playing the pipes. The idea is that a dish that’s piping hot is one so hot it makes a sizzling or hissing noise, perhaps not closely similar to the sound of the pipes, but at least audible. It’s first recorded near the end of the fourteenth century, in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. In the Miller’s Tale it says (in modernised spelling): “Wafers piping hot out of the gleed”, where a wafer is a kind of thin cake, baked between wafer-irons, and gleed is the hot coals of a fire.
Search World Wide Words
Recently added or updated
E31; Old fogey; Ampersand; Phizzog; Horse creature; Get one’s goat; Mammock; Mx; Stepney; Vape; No names, no pack drill; Bridegroom; Lilly-low; The Language Myth by Vyvyan Evans; Boot and trunk; Zoilism; Fish-faced; Poach; Immensikoff.
Support World Wide Words!
Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.
Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!