Saturday, April 20, 2013

Range or Stove?

Lowell from Interlochen, Michigan, asked why we have two words that mean practically the same thing: range and stove. Many people use the words interchangeably, but there are distinctions worth keeping.

Stove came from an Old English word that meant a hot air bath, a type of sauna. Originally, to stove was to sweat. Early on, it referred to a closed basket for sweating a gamecock or a hothouse for plants. By the 16th century, it had come to mean a closed box in which heat is produced in order to cook.

Range comes from an Anglo-Norman word that meant a row or a file. It is connected to the word rank, which meant a row, line, or series of things. More properly, range refers to the array or configuration of burners on top of an oven.  The first instance quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary goes back to 1423.

Oven came from an Old Frisian word that meant an earthenware cooking pot. Soon after, the Old English form came to mean a stand-alone compartment which is heated to cook or warm food.

Cook came from a Latin noun that meant a person who prepares food for the table.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

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