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Thread: cast pottage

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    Default cast pottage

    What is the meaning of the phrase "to cast pottage" or "to throw pottage"?

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    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: cast pottage

    Welcome to the forums.

    Can you give the context in which you have met this?

    "Pottage" is another word for thick vegetable stew or gruel
    Last edited by Anglika; 08-Jul-2008 at 00:31.

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    Default Re: cast pottage

    It was mentioned in an recent article on the death of Tim Russert, moderator of NBC's longest-running TV news show, Meet the Press. The author wrote “Tim Russert was trying instead to make citizens out of voters, thinkers out of listeners. He was trying to form a real democracy rather than simply throw pottage at herds of politicized sheep.”

    And the quote I am most interested in understanding was made in 1775, by Rev. John Newton in the UK when he commented the resistance growing in the American colonies that eventually led to the American Revolution. “Though I think non-resistance a very rational doctrine, in all cases where resistance is not practicable. It seems to me that if I was to outcry the loudest patriot at a city feast I might as well save my breath to cast my pottage, for things would go on just as they do.”

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    Default Re: cast pottage

    Quote Originally Posted by ggordon View Post
    It was mentioned in an recent article on the death of Tim Russert, moderator of NBC's longest-running TV news show, Meet the Press. The author wrote “Tim Russert was trying instead to make citizens out of voters, thinkers out of listeners. He was trying to form a real democracy rather than simply throw pottage at herds of politicized sheep.”
    This makes sense if you think of 'pottage' as a form of food given to animals.
    Quote Originally Posted by ggordon View Post

    And the quote I am most interested in understanding was made in 1775, by Rev. John Newton in the UK when he commented the resistance growing in the American colonies that eventually led to the American Revolution. “Though I think non-resistance a very rational doctrine, in all cases where resistance is not practicable. It seems to me that if I was to outcry the loudest patriot at a city feast I might as well save my breath to cast my pottage, for things would go on just as they do.”
    Are you sure there's not a typo in the last sentence? "Outcry" in this context means 'shout louder than' {and it would presumably take stress on the second syllable, like 'outbid' or 'outdraw'}, and an old, probably Scottish idiom meaning 'don't bother talking' is 'spare your breath to cool your porridge [sometimes spelt "porage"]' I suppose "porage" and "pottage" might be substituted for each other according to context (and pottage is more likely than porage to be served at a feast), but the words "cool" and "cast" aren't so readily interchangeable.

    b

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    Default Re: cast pottage

    I have checked and there is definitely no typo

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    Default Re: cast pottage

    I have checked John Newton's handwritten letter again, this time more closely,and you are correct. It does say "I might as well save my breath to cool my pottage."
    Thanks very much for your assistance.

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    Default Re: cast pottage

    Quote Originally Posted by ggordon View Post
    I have checked John Newton's handwritten letter again, this time more closely,and you are correct. It does say "I might as well save my breath to cool my pottage."
    Thanks very much for your assistance.
    Great! There's nothing like a hand-written source.

    Incidentally, when I guessed that porage/pottage might be interchanged according to context, I wasn't thinking of a more likely route for the etymology (a root-route?):

    'Pottage' is rarely used now - chiefly in a biblical quotation (about someone trading 'his birthright for a mess of pottage'). Quite possibly - I haven't checked, but it seems a plausible linguistic trick - the original idiom was "save your breath to cool your pottage", and "porage" was substituted just because it was a more familiar word. The same happened with Hamlet, who as proof of his sanity said he could 'tell a hawk from a hearnshaw'; a hearnshaw is a dialectal word for a young heron, so the comparison makes sense. It doesn't make sense in the version that's had a more familiar word swapped in: 'I can tell a hawk from a hand-saw'.

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    Default Re: cast pottage

    pottage

    noun archaic soup or stew.

    ORIGIN Old French potage ‘that which is put into a pot’; compare with POTAGE and PORRIDGE.

    http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/pottage?view=uk

    Etymology: Middle English potage, from Anglo-French, from pot pot, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English pott pot
    Date: 13th century

    a thick soup of vegetables and often meat

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-b...ary&va=pottage

    [Probably corrupted fr. pottage; perh. influenced by OE. porree a kind of pottage, OF. porr['e]e, fr. L. porrum, porrus, leek. See Pottage, and cf. Porringer.]

    A food made by boiling some leguminous or farinaceous substance, or the meal of it, in water or in milk, making of broth or thin pudding; as, barley porridge, milk porridge, bean porridge, etc.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Pottage&r=66

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