POCHADE, POCHARD, POACH.

I was reading Julian Bell’s LRB review of a Munch exhibition at the Tate Modern (which Wikipedia says is the most-visited modern art gallery in the world) when I was stopped in my tracks by the italicized word in the following sentence: “Munch did come to Paris with some training, but in genres appropriate to provincial Kristiania, each of them distinct: the frontal portrait, the landscape pochade, the bourgeois interior.” I had no idea what a pochade might be, so I went to my trusty Concise Oxford, which didn’t have it. It did, however, have pochard “a diving duck, the male of which typically has a reddish-brown head,” which is “of unknown origin.” So I had to go to the big OED, which of course has both words. Here’s what it says about the first (I’m putting brackets around the etymology for clarity): “[< French pochade a rough or hastily executed sketch (1828; also in sense ‘literary work written rapidly’ (1830)) < pocher (see poach v.1) + -ade -ade suffix.] A rough or hastily executed sketch; a blurred or indistinct picture. Also in extended use (chiefly Theatre).” The first citation is from 1872: R. Browning Fifine xxxvi, “So, any sketch or scrap, pochade, caricature, Made in a moment, meant a moment to endure, I snap at.” The diving duck pochard is “Apparently partly < poach v.2 + -ard suffix, and partly < poke v.1 + -ard suffix, in both cases probably with reference to the feeding habits of the bird.” You will note that both etymologies refer to a verb poach; poach 1 is the commonly known ‘cook (an egg) without the shell in simmering, or over boiling, water,’ which is ultimately from Old/Middle French poche ‘bag’ (the sense “is usually explained as referring to the enclosure of the yolk in the white as in a bag”), while poach 2, ‘shove, poke, thrust,’ has an etymology (revised September 2006) so tortured I won’t try to summarize it:

Origin uncertain. It is also uncertain whether the material below shows the development of a single word or of two or more, and whether (if a single origin is assumed) the original meaning should be taken to be ‘to shove’, ‘to poke’, ‘to thrust’, ‘to trample’, or ‘to thrust into a bag’. Branch I. perhaps shows a variant (with palatalized consonant) of poke v.1, but if so sense 1b must be of independent origin, < Middle French, French pocher to poke out (an eye) (1223 in Old French; spec. use of pocher poach v.1, perhaps arising originally from an analogy between the empty eye socket and a bag or pocket); with the early uses at sense 1a, and perhaps also with branch II., perhaps compare also French pocher poach v.1 in the sense ‘to put in a bag’, although this sense (although apparently a primary one) is not recorded in French until later (1660, unless implied slightly earlier by the idiom recorded by Cotgrave in quot. 1611 at sense 4a) and is apparently rare at all times. Perhaps alternatively compare poke v.2, of which the present word could perhaps show a variant (perhaps compare early forms at pouch n.).

That’s six perhapses, if I’ve counted right. I admit to feeling a certain irritation on being confronted with an obscure word like pochade used in place of a more transparent synonym, but on the other hand I enjoy looking things up, so I guess it’s a wash.

Comments

  1. A stab from the past! The word pochade knocked me out of the National Spelling Bee in 1959. I’m glad to know how obscure it is.

  2. I think the etymology of ‘pocher’ < ‘poche’ from an empty eye-socket is pretty strained, when there is a whole word family in Germanic around ‘poke’, ‘pocket’, ‘bag’ etc.
    Also this “which is ultimately from Old/Middle French poche ‘bag’ (the sense “is usually explained as referring to the enclosure of the yolk in the white as in a bag”),” is a stretch in view of the fact that a lot of other things were poached, in a cuisine that leaned very heavily on boiling and stewing meats, and in view of the fact that that poaching was usually done by putting the meat into a bag and then hanging the whole thing in the kettle. Puddings too, and sausages. People didn’t develop those precious, obnoxious, space gobbling long fish poaching pans until pretty recently.

  3. Weird. I wonder what happened to my first paragraph. never mind. I don’t agree with it anymore.

  4. @Jim: probably you used ‘<’ where you needed to use ‘&lt;’ to avoid confusing the software. (‘<’ has a special meaning in HTML/XML/SGML; ‘&lt;’ gives you a ‘<’ for display.)

  5. That’s exactly what happened, and I fixed it.

  6. Does “poach” in its illegal-hunting sense come from the “put in a bag” meaning?

  7. There’s also poché, a word English-speaking architects use a lot, one of those words like charrette that came into English via US students studying at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in the latter part of the 19c.

  8. The Tate Modern is worth a trip just to see the building, so I’m not surprised it’s the most visited, but they’ve had their fair share of disappointing shows as well as blockbusters. Just saying.

  9. Trond Engen says:

    I’ll just note that one of these possibly conflated origins, poke, seems to relate in a regular intra-Germanic way to Scand. peika/peke, i.e. < *paikan- “point”. This verb is related to such nouns as No. pikk “prick” and Eng. pike < *pi:k “sharp end; top”. Bjorvand & Lindeman menation a suggestion by Lühr/Matzel (1986) that these are related to words like spike < ON spík “piece of wood, chip” < *speiko:- f. and spoke < *spaikan- m. through a late loss of the initial s-, possibly in analogy with words with proper s-mobile.
    The French origin is another matter. Here’s pocher:

    Étymol. et Hist. A. Trans. 1. ca 1223 pocher (un oeil) à qqn «crever (un oeil) à quelqu’un» (Gautier de Coinci, éd. V. F. Koenig, II Mir. 27, 577); 1546 «meurtrir (un oeil) par un coup violent» (Rabelais, Tiers Livre, XX, éd. M. A. Screech, p.149); 2. a) ca 1223 oef pochié (Gautier de Coinci, II Chast. 10, 191); fin xiiie-déb. xives. [ms.] trans. (Viandier valaisan, éd. P. Aebischer, p.94); b) 1833 p.ext. pocher des quenelles (Gdes heures cuis. fr., Carême, p.130); 3. ca 1485 tout poché «bien imité» (Myst. du V. Testament, éd. J. de Rothschild, 48571, cf. aussi Pathelin, éd. R. T. Holbrook, 146 d’apr. des éd. de 1485-89); 1587 pocher «représenter quelqu’un par un dessin» (Cholières, 6eAp.-disnée, p.262 ds Hug.); 1768 «exécuter rapidement, à la manière d’une pochade» (Diderot, Salon de 1767, éd. J. Seznec et J. Adhémar, t.3, p.295); 4. 1660 «mettre en sac» (Bail Gautier, 6 mars ds Littré); 1766 poché «(fruit) qui a été conservé longtemps dans un sac» (Desgrouais, Les Gasconismes corrigés, p.172); 5. 1866 se pocher «se battre à coups de poing» (Delvau, p.308). B. Intrans. 1835 «se déformer, faire des poches» (Gautier, Mllede Maupin, éd. Charpentier, p.86 ds Fr. mod. t.15, 1947, p.217). Dér. de poche1*; dés. -er.
    So the two separate senses “sting” and “put in a bag” were present already in late medieval French. No further origin is suggested, but the attestation is so late that the “sting” meaning might actually be a loan from English. The other sense could be a semantic parallel to stick (away, into a pocket etc.).

  10. Trond Engen says:

    Sorry, I lost something bewteen pike and spike in the first paragraph. I hope ut can still be retrieved by Hattic magic. If not, the gist of it was Bjorvand & Lindeman brings forth a suggestion by Lühr/Matzel that Gmc. *peik-/*paik- is related to *speik-/*spaik- by late loss of the initial s.

  11. The Tate Modern is chiefly distinguished by its coffee bar which offers views over the shoogly brig to St Paul’s.

  12. “offers views”: tut, tut; I’ll never make an estate agent/realtor. That should be “affords ample views”.

  13. pocher des quenelles caught my attention in that long definition, so I had to find out what it was in English. I eventually found that it is, needless to say, ‘quenelle’, ‘a poached oval dumpling of pureed forcemeat (as of pike) often served in a cream sauce’.
    Despite its fancy French patina, ‘quenelle’ is actually derived from German Knödel ‘dumpling’, akin to Old High German knoto ‘knot’.

  14. David: Possibly, but it also may refer to thrusting oneself onto another’s land. The culinary sense definitely refers to the bag which the egg white forms to hold the egg yolk in poached eggs.

  15. I hope it can still be retrieved by Hattic magic.
    Done!

  16. Trond: So the two separate senses “sting” and “put in a bag” were present already in late medieval French. No further origin is suggested, but the attestation is so late that the “sting” meaning might actually be a loan from English.
    Where do you find a “sting” meaning in your etymological material ? Do you mean “poke” ?
    If a poacher bags a pig in a poke, can he be said to have pocketed it ?

  17. Trond Engen says:

    Stu: Where do you find a “sting” meaning in your etymological material ?
    Did I misunderstand the dictionary entry or just write impenetrable English? I wrote the comment in too much of a hurry, so I’ll look at it all again when I’ve time to do it properly.

  18. The culinary sense definitely refers to the bag which the egg white forms to hold the egg yolk in poached eggs.”
    Plausible – not completley convincing, but plausible –and maybe poaching salmon is just an extension. As for boiling meat ion a bag hung into the kettle, now that I think of it, there may have been some other term for that.

  19. Trond Engen says:

    Where do you find a “sting” meaning in your etymological material ? Do you mean “poke” ?
    I meant ‘sting‘ because I wanted to avoid reusing ‘poke’. What I was after was “push the tip of something hard into something softer.”
    As for French pocher, the first attested meaning is “pull out (someone’s eye)”. The second meaning, three centuries later, is “destroy (an eye) by a hard blow”. The former definitely takes Fingerspitzgefühl, the latter at least takes some sort of pointed object. The even younger senses conceivably derive by extensison from “hit or penetrate with a ponted object”. For parallels: When we in Norwegian put something in a pocket, we stikker det i lomma. A stikk is a picture made by applying a pointed object to a surface.
    The culinary sense definitely refers to the bag which the egg white forms to hold the egg yolk in poached eggs.
    Or poached eggs are eggs that have been hit by a pointed object.
    There’s an Astérix panel in which Panoramix the druid lists the courses in a meal he’s about to serve to the Romans. One of those is (in Norwegian) “posjerte øyne… egg”. When I first read that as a boy, I knew it had to be a pun in the original and was slightly diapoointed with the translation for not coming up with anything better. After learning some French I thought it was just a play on the euphony of oeil and oeuf, making the loss from the original seem less severe. I never realised it was all about pocher.

  20. the first attested meaning is “pull out (someone’s eye)”
    No doubt a common occurrence in those days….

  21. What I was after was “push the tip of something hard into something softer.”
    That would be “prick”, or “deflower”.

  22. As for French pocher, the first attested meaning is “pull out (someone’s eye)”.
    You may have fallen under the spell of Kill Bill Vol. 2. In “crever un oeil à quelq’un“, crever means (I think) merely “destroy” in general. The word “gouge” describes a specific way of doing that, “stab” and “poke” another. I just learned that “gouge” doesn’t mean “stick into”, as I had always imagined, but “scoop out”.
    The biblical source for plucking out an eye has arrache-le, which like “plucking out” reflects an interest in sadistic details extraneous to the textually vague ἔκβαλε. Indeed, the New American Standard Bible translators render the word as “throw it out”.

  23. quelqu‘un

  24. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks, Stu. How did I construe that? I think I took the primary transitive meaning of créver (at least in my dictionaries)), “faire éclater”, to mean “make pop out” rather than “make go to pieces”. That’s my French for you. But anyway, “hit or penetrate with a pointed object” is still a reasonable origin.
    But I shouldn’t do this stuff for this long. The way this is supposed to work is that I come up with an idea and present some elementary research, and then Marie-Lucie or Étienne or somebody else equipped for the task comes along and puts me straight or sorts it all out.

  25. (I thought I posted this before, but apparently it didn’t stick.)
    Trond: Sting always involves causing pain and/or injury: the prototypical case is what a bee does. The cause of the pain may be, as in the bee’s case, the sharp point of the stinger or the poison the bee carries, and either or both of these connotations may be present. It has a broad metaphorical use, as in stinging remark, but those revolve around causing pain of some kind, not around poking or sticking of some kind.

  26. You can stick it in your pocket in English too. Why does everyone, seemingly, in Norway know the German word Fingerspitzgefühl?

  27. Well, perhaps not everyone. I just mean that my wife uses it a lot.

  28. Trond Engen says:

    You can stick it in your pocket in English too.
    That’s why I used ‘stick’ as parallel the first time, but then I came to think that the meaning “glue” could interfere with the, er, point.
    Why does everyone, seemingly, in Norway know the German word Fingerspitzgefühl?
    Until a century ago we were under heavy German intellectual influence.
    When I wrote it, I vaguely suspected that it’s more common in speech or has a different metaphorical meaning in Norwegian than in German. There are some words like that. A German student I knew in Trondheim once told how his jaw dropped the first time he was invited over for a Vorspiel.

  29. Trond Engen says:

    Sting always involves causing pain and/or injury: the prototypical case is what a bee does.
    Ah, thanks. That’s stronger than I aimed for. But it still seems to fit the oldest attested examples of pocher.
    Derailing, I wonder if the stick/sting pair could be related to the doublet we see in Norwegian dialects /ganga “walk”. I have an idea of an ancient durative suffix *-ng-, maybe closely related to the verbal noun suffix -Vng.

  30. Until a century ago we were under heavy German intellectual influence.
    Oh, weren’t we all. We couldn’t move for German intellectuals, at one time.
    A German student I knew in Trondheim once told how his jaw dropped the first time he was invited over for a Vorspiel.
    He may have been having you on. They (or at least the ones I worked with) know & use the Norwegian social meaning as well as the sexual one.

  31. marie-lucie says:

    Given all the information given above, I think that the original meaning of “pocher” ‘crever (un oeil)’ (an extremely cruel, deliberate act) became applied to other, less maiming injuries to the eye. I am not sure what happens to the eye itself when hit, say with a fist or a flying ball, but the surrounding tissues must also take a beating and become swollen.
    Here is an example about “pocher (un oeil)” taken from a fragment of a short poem I learned as a child. Setting: Apple falls from a tree.
    – Pomme, pomme, t’es-tu fait mal^
    – J’ai le menton en marmelade,
    Le nez fendu et l’oeil poché!

    – Apple, apple, did you get hurt?
    – My chin is reduced to marmalade,
    My nose is split, my eye’s been hit!
    It may also be relevant that ‘bags’ under the eyes are called des poches sous les yeux.

  32. The definition of sting I gave is semantically correct for the last five centuries, but sting and stick are certainly related. In particular, stick derives from a blend of two different IE roots *steig- and *stegh-. The former is fairly common in English, giving us by inheritance stickleback < OE sticel ‘prick, sting’ and stitch; thistle derives from a form without s mobile.
    As borrowings from other IE languages, we get many more: steak < Old Norse ‘what is cooked on a spit’); Latin extinct, distinct, instinct etc. < stingere and instigate < stīgāre; ticket/etiquette (a doublet from French[*], ultimately Germanic); snickersnee < Dutch with assimilation from *stickersnee; stigma < Greek ‘puncture mark’; and tiger (again without s mobile) < Greek < Proto-Iranian, presumably ‘the fanged one, the “sticker”‘.
    The other root *stegh- gives us sting with nasal infixation, but also the native word stag and the Greek-derived adjective stochastic, where στοχος ‘stake in the ground to shoot at’ > ‘goal’.
    [*] The phrase that’s the ticket ‘that’s the Right Thing’ is apparently < that’s etiquette, with an older stress pattern.

  33. Hurray, marie-lucie is back!

  34. Despite its fancy French patina, ‘quenelle’ is actually derived from German Knödel ‘dumpling’, akin to Old High German knoto ‘knot’.
    I don’t know about knoto ‘knot,’ but I would have thought that Knödel ‘dumpling’ is akin to knead.
    Quesnel has a different origin.

  35. Pomme, pomme, t’es-tu fait mal^
    J’ai le menton en marmelade,
    Le nez fendu et l’oeil poché!

    Doesn’t cost anything…
    Apple, apple, have you hurt yourself?
    I have a jellied chin,
    My nose is slit and eye blackened!

  36. I don’t know about knoto ‘knot,’ but I would have thought that Knödel ‘dumpling’ is akin to knead.
    German has a slew of words that start with kn-, have a “bunch/press/jam together” meaning and are etymologically related by derivation or imitation (see the etymology section of the Knoten entry in Duden): kneten, knutschen, Knoten, Knopf, Knödel, Knüppel, Knospe, Knolle, knüllen, Knust = knead, smooch, knot, button, dumpling, truncheon, bud, clod/tuber, crumple, heel of a loaf of bread.
    In south Germany, Austria and Switzerland the word Knopf can be used to designate a knot tied in a thread. Isn’t it the case that buttons in olden times were knots or small bones ?

  37. marie-lucie says:

    Hozo, the three lines are from a poem (however insignificant). I don’t often try to tranlsate poetry but it occurred to me that in those three short lines there was a potential for some attention to syllable count, rhythm and rhyme even it it made the translation less literal.

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