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The meaning and origin of the expression: Piping hot

Piping hot

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Piping hot'?

Very hot, usually referring to food.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Piping hot'?

In Scotland, ceremonial dishes of food are often brought to the table to the accompaniment of bagpipes, that is, they are 'piped in'. This could easily be imagined to be the origin of 'piping hot'. It isn't though. Nor does the phrase derive from food being 'piped aboard' ships.

The phrase 'Piping hot' - meaning and origin.
The derivation of the phrase 'Piping
hot' is a reference to the whistling
sound made by steam escaping
from a hot pie.

The derivation of this little phrase is the sizzling, whistling sound made by steam escaping from very hot food, which is similar to the sound of high-pitched musical pipes.

An early citation is given in Philemon Holland's translation of Pliny's Historie of the world, 1601:

"Beanes... fried all whole as they be, and so cast piping hot into sharp vineger."

Piping hotChaucer had also used the phrase, in language less accessible to us, but much earlier. This is from The Miller's Tale, circa 1390:

He sente hir pyment meeth and spiced ale
And wafres pipyng hoot out of the glede.

[He sent her sweetened wine and well-spiced ale
And waffles piping hot out of the fire

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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