A potluck of pot pourri

Bob Middleton: Can someone help me with the origin of the words potluck or potlatch party? is it related to potpourri? what other words are used for a bring your own dish party? What countries/areas use potluck and potlatch?

C.Hall: I don't know if this is going to help you at all, but the Indians, specifically the B.C. Coast ones, used the term potlatch for one of their ceremonies. Potlatch was a ceremony that involved all the Indians exchanging their possessions with others in their tribe. This occured when something special was happening in that tribe (bringing in a new chief, building a house, etc.). So I'm not sure, but this term may be an origin because it involves bringing something from your house and giving it to someone else.

E.C. Muehleisen: Potlach is an Amerind phrase particulary used by the northeastern Indian tribes. It described a situation in which everyone brought something for the pot. Perhaps something akin to an old Irish stew. Appropriate on St. Pat's day.

Terry O'Connor: Indignantly, I must point out that an Irish stew is nothing like this. It comprises lamb (oh, all right then, mutton usually), onions, potatoes, parsley, thyme, water and seasonings. That's it. Note: no blasted barley, which foreigners often insist on using, and certainly no "potluck" gifts of whatever anyone had handy. There. I've got that off my chest.


Return to the Archive Index
Return to the Word for Word articles
Return to the BrisMail Home page