Definition of pottage in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpɒtɪdʒ/


[mass noun] archaic
Soup or stew.
Example sentences
  • Most meals would have been some form of stew, soup or pottage cooked in a cauldron over the central hearth of the house.
  • So, Horace's simple dish would have been a vegetable stew or pottage, and it is most likely that the lagani added to it were small squares or strips of fried dough.
  • The pottage would be thickened with oats, barley or bread.


sell something for a mess of pottage

Sell something for a ridiculously small amount: this is the generation which sold for a mess of pottage the finest British companies
With biblical allusion to the story of Esau, who sold his birthright (Gen. 25:31)
More example sentences
  • I have a sense we have sold our birthright for a mess of pottage, which has been the main benefit of unrestrained mass immigration of recent years.
  • A spokesman for the Action Group, said: ‘It is selling the public inheritance for a mess of pottage.’
  • Don't sell your birthright for a mess of pottage.


Middle English (as potage): from Old French potage 'that which is put into a pot'. Compare with potage and porridge.

  • porridge from mid 16th century:

    At first porridge was a soup thickened with barley. The word is a 16th-century alteration of pottage (Middle English), which in turn comes from Old French potage ‘something put in a pot’. The porridge we are familiar with, consisting of oatmeal boiled in water or milk, is mentioned in the 1640s. The informal use of porridge to mean ‘prison’ dates from the 1950s. It probably derives from porridge as a typical prison food, though it might be based on a pun involving two meanings of stir, one as in ‘stir the porridge’ and the other a slang term for ‘prison’, which is perhaps from Romany sturbin ‘jail’. The term was immortalized by the BBC comedy series Porridge of the 1970s, which starred Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher, a cynical but good-hearted old convict.

Words that rhyme with pottage


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pot|tage

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