The Origin of the Word Barbecue

The Marvellous Meat team are celebrating National Barbecue week in style at the Marvellous Meat HQ, offering 20% off our Marvellous BBQ box all week with discount code BBQ2015F.


We thought we’d contribute our part towards national barbecue week by providing some insightful information about the origin of the word ‘barbecue’.

Most people won’t know how the word came about or who invented the concept, so we did some digging of our own to provide you with some history facts.

The word ‘barbecue’ originally came from the Caribbean word ‘barbacoa’ – the name of a wooden structure used by Taino Indians to smoke their food, most often seafood, caught in the surrounding Caribbean sea.

When Spanish explorers discovered this invention, they took it back to Spain with them, where it appeared on paper for the first time in 1526. The word barbacoa, was used to refer to the structure the food was cooked in, but slowly transitioned to being the word people used to describe the cooking process.

It wasn’t until 1697, where the first recollection in English print was made in regards to referencing the word barbecue.

The spelling and pronunciation started to change rather quickly, to make it easier for English tongues to pronounce. Come 1733, the word barbecue had been used to define a social gathering where meat was grilled and cooked.

Nearly 20 years later in 1755, and the word ‘barbecue’ had been officially entered into Samuel Johnson’s The Dictionary of the English Language. The entry reads:

“To barbecue. A term used in the West-Indies for dressing a hog whole; which, being split to the backbone, is laid flat upon a large gridiron, raised about two foot above a charcoal fire, with which it is surrounded.”

In today’s era, people use a variety of spellings to communicate a barbecue. The most popular being ‘BBQ’ and ‘barbeque’. However the official spelling is considered to be ‘barbecue’ spelt with a ‘c’.

We hope everyone enjoys National Barbecue Week, and that the British weather doesn’t disappoint as always.

The Marvellous Meat Team

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