Have you heard from your mom, or even grandparents, say that “the proof is in the pudding” when all you wanted was a yes or no answer. How can pudding have proof in it and what is the relation between proof and pudding?
Let’s demystify this:
Proof comes from the words probable and prove, which share a Latin root: probare. This Latin root word didn’t mean prove in our modern English, but something close. Back when the Romans ruled the world (not really, but it seemed like it at one time) they like to test their theories in everything, no matter the final answer. This is why we call someone who reads copy to edit errors a proofreader.
Have you ever heard that “an exception proves a rule?” The exception is what proves the rule to the test, no matter the outcome as the theory has been proved.
What does this have to do with “the proof is in the pudding?” Well, this is where the old saying came from. In other words, the test is in the pudding (theory). Now, before you go off and mention how this doesn’t make sense, here’s what the people in the 13th century considered pudding. It’s not the stuff from Jell-O that comes in many different flavors on the baking aisle.
Pudding was the entrails of an animal stuffed with its own meat and grease, boiled, and stuck in a cupboard to eat for later (probably for dessert). The earliest recorded uses of the word is from 1450 called Porpoise Pudding in Old English:
Puddyng of Porpoise
Take the Blode of hym, & the grece of hym self, & Oatmeal, & Salt, & Pepir, & Gyngere, & melle (mix) these togetherys wel, & then put this in the Gut of the Porpoise, & then lat it seethe [boil] esyli, & not hard, a good while; & then take hym up, & broyle hum a lytil, & then serve forth.
Yummy, right? In other words, medieval animal pudding was folded within itself and later on the feasters could see what the “theory” had come up with. I expect a very foul and disgusting taste. It’s more of a exaggeration of the pudding and in today’s English, has no relation. Unless you use soy milk because pudding can’t be made with that. Read the box.
(I cite all my works by MLA standards) Works Cited:
Forsyth, Mark. Etymology: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language. Berkley Books, NY. 2011. pp. 21-22. Print.