• Paul Anthony Jones

Lumpy-dicks

(n.) especially thick porridge

porridge oatmeal close up

Lumpy porridge can also be known as lumpy-dicks. No, it really can.

That word comes from an 1862 dictionary of the Dialect of Leeds and its Neighbourhood—which also pointed out in its definition that “these lumps are formed” when “oatmeal is strewn into the vessel of milk while on the fire”. But this, we are told, is “the best kind of porridge”. Hey, there’s no accounting for taste.

Why dicks? That’s a good, if somewhat eyebrow-raising, question. Back in the nineteenth century, the word dick (as in spotted dick, a type of fruit-packed steamed suet pudding) often cropped up in the names of cakes, puddings and the like, possibly as a dialect corruption of the word dough, or else perhaps a local pronunciation of the word pudding as “puddick”. Alternatively, this might simply be a whimsical application of the boy’s name Dick; according to the Survey of English Dialects, lumpy porridge was also once known as lumpy-toms.

Whatever the origin, it’s probably best not to go Googling any of this any time soon.

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