Another new slang term I was unaware of, via Ben Yagoda’s website Not One-Off Britishisms:

It’s not in the OED or Green’s Dictionary of Slang, but an Urban Dictionary post from 2010 has it as one of nine (count ’em, nine) “hoover” definitions:

v. colloquial Being manipulated back into a relationship with threats of suicide, self-harm, or threats of false criminal accusations. Relationship manipulation often associated with individuals suffering from personality disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The next example I could find was in the title of a 2017 book by (American) Amber Ault: Hoovering: How to Resist the Pull of a Toxic Relationship & Recover Your Freedom Now. And the word seems to be very much still out there, as witness 2022 articles in Psychology Today and Bustle. Those are both American publications, which leads me to suspect that psychological hoovering is an American coinage. But I’m not sure and would be interested in evidence either way.

I too am interested; I can’t say I care for the term, but that of course is an entirely predictable and meaningless reaction to the new and unfamiliar. A commenter at Ben’s site also dislikes it, but in an amusingly over-the-top peeverish way: “an absurdity in which mentally lazy people join the vast hordes of mentally lazy people […] Every time that I provide a simple comment about language, someone indignantly defends, by denying, the deterioration of language.”

By the way, while I have your attention, I ran across the term полярный торт in a Russian text (it literally means “polar cake”), and when I googled it and saw the images, I said “Oh yeah, that’s…” but couldn’t think of the term. I asked my wife and she said “vanilla wafers,” and that sounds right, but I wonder what my readers call such things.


  1. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    “Vanilla wafers” is pretty much what I would say, or maybe “wafer biscuits”.

  2. Keith Ivey says

    Vanilla wafers are different, and are used in banana pudding. I can’t think of what we called those.

  3. Jen in Edinburgh says

    They would be pink biscuits if they were pink, but they’re not, so they can’t be. But I think you generally only find them in Polish supermarkets here.

  4. That’s it! That’s not what we call them here, but that’s the item.

  5. Keith Ivey says

    I think we might have called them sugar wafers in the 1970s in Virginia.

  6. There are a couple brands available in the Pacific Northwest that call themselves “Vienna wafers”, which I suppose is as good a name as any.

  7. If I had to put a specific name to those rectangular cookies, I think it would have to be Keith Ivey’s “sugar wafers.” It might take me some time for me to remember that, since I would usually call them “wafers” (if I called them anything), but that doesn’t really feel to me like a name for them, just part of a description.

  8. I would usually call them “wafers” (if I called them anything), but that doesn’t really feel to me like a name for them, just part of a description.

    Yeah, I’m in the same boat. I may start calling them “polar wafers.”

  9. Just used Google Books to find out what the translator of the novel called it, and it turns out to be “Polar wafer cake,” which is terrible.

  10. And “печенье курабье” is rendered “kurabiye cookies,” which, yes, is accurate, but will mean nothing to almost anyone; I would have gone with “shortbread cookies” myself.

  11. David Marjanović says

    Wafferl, properly Mannerschnitten™, except the filling is the wrong color. Should be hazelnut paste.

    I suppose hoovering comes from the vacuum cleaner but has drifted pretty far…

  12. J.W. Brewer says

    At least some major U.S. brands seem to use “sugar wafers” as the generic name for the category. E.g., https://www.shoprite.com/sm/pickup/rsid/3000/product/nabisco-biscos-creme-filling-sugar-wafers-3-count-85-oz-id-00044000000684

  13. @LH, the genre is called вафельный торт

    It differs from “вафли” ((1) plural from вафля “wafer” (2) this thing, with filling, commonly sold as вафли)) in that the latter are thinner, cut in smaller pieces and usually don’t contain nuts and chocolate, common in вафельный торт.
    There are some конфеты, e.g. мишка косолапый, that contain wafers.

    What makes it attractive is that
    – it is called торт
    – it is large. When you fill two cups with tea and place something Large between them, which you will have to cut, it is somehow more impressive than when you fill two cups and place something small.
    – it is cheap.

    But I never ever studied their names and did not know there is в.т. named “Polar”…. As you wrote полярный торт (and not торт “полярный” as on price tags) my first idea was “it has polarity” and my second idea was “a торт you would eat on a pole”:-)))) The latter, of course, is close to what they meant.

  14. Here in Czechia there is something called polárkový dort, which, unlike the Russian thing, is just ice cream with no waffers. It is not so popular now, but during communist times it was one of only a few types of ice cream available. The adjective polárkový seems to be derived from Polárka “Polaris”, rather than from the pole itself.

  15. @LH, the genre is called вафельный торт

    Thanks, that’s important information! I could see from the images that полярный was a brand name, but since it was written lowercase in the text I assumed it had become generic. I still don’t think “Polar wafer cake” is a good translation, because nobody will know what it means (and also those things are not called “cake” in English).

  16. Keith Ivey says

    Looking at the images again, along with the word “polar” and prase’s comment, I’m wondering whether it’s actually a frozen dessert containing ice cream, in which case it’s significantly different from the cookies some of us have been taking about.

  17. David Marjanović says

    Oh. Yeah. No ice cream in ordinary Manner products or knockoffs thereof.


    Wow! A loanword from specifically Viennese.

  18. David Eddyshaw says

    On “Hoovering”, my immediate thought was not vacuum cleaners but J Edgar. If it really is American in origin, I suppose that would make my guess more plausible.

  19. @David Eddyshaw: I’m confused. Do you think there is another word hoover or hoovering not derived from the British “vacuum” verb?

  20. @Brett, exactly.

    I’m familiar with British ‘hoover(ing)’ = vacuum(ing); and I know U.S. generic ‘hoover’ means something else (washing machine?)

    Hadn’t heard the relationship manipulation sense at all.

    Re the wafers-with-soft-filling: yes I recognise @mollymolly’s photo. My family kept vast stores of all sorts of cheap sugary biscuity things, including those. Memories of which I have tried to suppress — successfully in this case, it seems.

  21. I’m not familiar with the Polar version, but generally I would say wafers. Something similar is sold as Napolitan wafers. In Swedish it’s “fyllda rån” and the most famous brand is “Jätten”.

  22. @Brett

    Pete Seegar sings a line in “Beans, Bacon, and Gravy” as “We’ve Hooverized on butter”, which seems to mean economized, following the encouragement of Herbert Hoover, the US Food administrator during WWI.


  23. Keith Ivey, in Soviet imagination the North was important (e.g. this famous cartoon), and it was one of predictable sources of names for random things. Enough to be white rather than brown to be called “polar” by an unimaginative pastry chef. (a more imaginative chef could call you after the south pole, e.g. the cake “penguin“)

    No, it is does not contain ice cream.

  24. @AntC: There is no generic American English term hoover, although maybe there was during the First World War or the Great Depression.

    And since the connection seems to unclear to some of the Brits: The relationship sense of hoover just comes from the British verb. The meaning is “suck [back] in.”

  25. @LH, “торт Полярный” is unnatural. I would use this form to hint on that this is a brand name, simply because I don’t know it and don’t expect others to know.

    When it is familiar, you call it полярный торт, which means “not [another adj.]ый торт”. When you call something “Russian X” you are sometimes aware that it was merely named after Russia, but the adjective still helps you specifify what variety of X you mean.

    I still say “курабье бакинское” and not “бакинское курабье” because “курабье” is enough – there is no point in repeating the adjective other than citing the price tag.

    P.S. all right…. I think now it is курабье восточное:/ But of course I’m not going to call it “oriental”:-)

    And the Penguin: they don’t bake it now, and the Penguin in the picture was baked for a book:) Those in shops contained simplified “penguins”: identical cones, half-white half-brown.

  26. Hoove is common, in the sense of eating a lot quickly. Hoove not, heave not, for he who hooves is he who heaves.

  27. Yagoda: suspect that psychological hoovering is an American coinage.

    Here‘s an example usage from 2010 in a U.S. psycho-help website; suggesting already the term was getting misused.

    And yes, most of the early psych usages I could find were U.S. But there’s plenty U.K. usages by now.

    So this is weird: the vacuuming sense isn’t common in U.S., but is in U.K.; the relationship sense isn’t common in U.K., but is in U.S. And yet the relationship sense must derive from the vacuuming. (Most of the articles I found felt the need to explain the vacuuming sense first for a U.S. audience.)

    The relationship sense seems to cover a complex of behaviours like psychological blackmail, gaslighting, lovebombing, baiting, attention-seeking. (On the continuum of (vulnerable) Narcissistic Personality Disorder — which seems to have reached epidemic proportions, if Youtube psychobabble is to be believed.)

    I don’t care for the term either — well to be precise I didn’t care for being subjected to the thing. But neither can I think of a more appropriate term for that complex of behaviours — as opposed to the separate aspects.

    @Y Hoove is common, in the sense of eating a lot quickly.

    Hmm? Urban dictionary doesn’t seem to know that sense. OTOH it seems to include plenty of definitions that are novel to me, including a novel sexual position not involving the sucking sense of cleaning the carpet. Those of a sensitive disposition are advised to stay away.

  28. Hm. Urban Dictionary does have hooving in the sense I know, but maybe it’s a lot more restricted than I thought. I have been hearing it for at least 30 years, but I have a hard time finding any instances on the internet not having to do with walking or ungulates. As a simple back-formation from Hoover, I’m surprised it’s not more common.

  29. Hmm? Urban dictionary doesn’t seem to know …

    Ah, apologies @Y. I should have checked the dead-trees dictionary. “A disease in cattle consisting of inflammation of the stomach by gas, usually caused by eating too much green food.” aka wind-dropsy, drum-belly. cf heave. Scot hove ‘to swell’, ‘to rise’.

    The surname Hoover is an Anglicized version of the German Huber, originally designating a landowner or a prosperous small-scale farmer.

    The sort of farmer who would keep cattle that ate too much green food?

    Am I suffering ‘Model Collapse’ self-reference hallucinations?

  30. Something similar is sold as Napolitan wafers.

    Ah yes, well done @Moa. Neapolitan wafer.

    They were mass-produced in the USSR and the Eastern block for their cheap production cost, long shelf-life and simple production method. Up to this day they are a popular treat in Russia and post-soviet countries, especially popular among seniors.

    There was an up-market version in various pastel shades of revolting food colouring, rather than the sludge brown. Like here, but long rectangular rather than square.

    Although @mollymolly’s link calls them ‘wafer biscuit’, I don’t think that term means that thing in particular in UK. wikip doesn’t know the term; neither wiktionary.

  31. Rogue robotic vacuum cleaner causes $3.5k worth of damage

    “The more intelligent models will learn to avoid furniture, and some use cameras to identify objects to avoid,” the Consumer report said.

    “Intelligent” hoovers? My roomba has fallen out of love with me, and is baiting me by chipping my paintwork.

  32. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Danish just calls them vafler, and they were a fixture at child-friendly parties 60 years ago, along with so-called rainbow icecream. (A tricolor block with artificial chocolate/cocoa, vanilla and strawberry layers). The Anglophone sense of “waffle” made from pancake batter also existed, but we usually got pancakes or æbleskiver instead, so the dry-as-dust sense was the default. (I don’t remember if we had ways to distinguish them, except with full explanations of course).

    There was also the thin, crisp version formed into a cone when just baked and still soft, used for ice cream. An ice cream cone was (and is) called an isvaffel by metonymy, and if asking for the thing itself at the grocers’ I think I’d say vafler til is (or isvafler til at fylde selv) since they also have prefilled ones in the freezer. (We don’t get the dry-as-dust “cones” that seem to be common in Germany and the UK, made from the same sort of cardboard-like stuff as the “Neapolitan” ones).

  33. the thing itself.

    Every child’s dream:-/

  34. Trond Engen says

    If I were to call them something generic in Norwegian, I think I’d say vaffelkjeks. The traditionally dominating brand is the vanilla-filled Gullvafler from Sætre kjeks.

    When ordering icecream at an icecream venue, we get the choice kjeks eller beger (“wafer or cup”). Kjeks (< Eng. cakes) is generally a better translation of wafer than vaffel (< “a source akin to” Eng. wafer).

    Vafler alone can’t meen anything but the heart-shaped cakes made from pancake batter.

  35. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    @Trond, not even the larger and thicker rectangular ones that they serve in cafés now? (The traditional shape in Denmark is as Trond says, baked 6 at a time in a special hinged cast-iron griddle).

    We have kiks as well, but an ice cream cone would never called that. (In Stockholm, kex was /keks/, but reportedly Göteborg had /ʃeks/ like Norwegian. I don’t know what the Neapolitan ones are called in Swedish, but the ice cream ones are våffla. However, there’s a Swedish confection called Kexchoklad, like a Neapolitan waffle except thrice as large so maybe that’s a hint. Only language nerds like me know that it’s from cakes–which IRL seems to be from Some Scandinavian kaka vel sim.)

    ODS connects vaffel with German wabe ‘honeycomb’ < OHG waba, and implies that the English word (or maybe wafer before that) has the same source

  36. Keith Ivey says

    A tricolor block with artificial chocolate/cocoa, vanilla and strawberry layers

    That’s “Neapolitan ice cream” in the US.

  37. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    That’s hardly a coincidence, is it? Neapolitan wafers for Neapolitan ice cream. The question is just who is conspiring with whom.

  38. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    OK, just so story: It all started with stroopwafels which were filled with honey before cane sugar was available and marked with a honeycomb pattern to show that. (It’s now more of a rhomboid pattern, two sets of equidistant lines at what looks like 60 degrees or so to each other).

  39. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Let me just say that siroop > stroop is a funky sound change because it makes the word so different from the nearby languages that also have it. (/sr/ > /str/ after unstressed deletion is more or less expected, of course, but still it looks funky). TIL that siroop is the “inviscid” kind, like the sugar syrup you use for cocktails, and stroop is the thicker kind. Almost sound symbolism there.

  40. Trond Engen says

    @Lars: Your just-so story works for me. I think perhaps it’s even more straightforward. Before modern mechanical extraction, honey was largely sold as flakes of honeycomb. Put those on a griddle and roast to caramel and sell as expensive snacks. Imitate for mass consumption by replacing honey with syrup and the beeswax structure with a cake of egg & flour batter. Invent the waffle iron to make those thin wafers with a honeycomb pattern. Adapt to new tastes by adding more eggs (or baking soda) and making thicker cakes.

    (I too like stroop. That’s what I came back here to say)

  41. In Swedish, the wafer/waffle for ice cream is also called “rån”, but actually some people do say “våffla”. I usually say “strut” (cone).

  42. Like for Lars, these layered waffles were the default for Waffel for me as a child, and we adored them. The second meaning was the thin things (basically one layer of those Neapolitan waffles) that you get with your cup of ice cream in ice cream parlors. Eiswaffel can be that, sometimes also a waffle filled with ice cream, or even a cone, although if you want that specifically, you say Hörnchen. I learnt about the existence of waffles made in waffle irons only at some point in my pre-teens.
    @DM: Manner is a brand also known and sold in Germany, but it’s not so dominant that it became the default name.

  43. Trond Engen says

    @Moa: I’ve mostly heard våffla in Sweden, but I once had strut explained to me when I looked like a question mark. I suppose I wouldn’t understand rån either. Where is that from? The closest thing I find in SAOB is rån n.pl. “iron filings”.

    @Lars: The large and rectangular ones are called belgiske vafler. Often served with chocolate sauce, I think “shrug”.

    In Stockholm, kex was /keks/, but reportedly Göteborg had /ʃeks/ like Norwegian.

    No, no, no! That’s /çeks/. The merger of /ç/ and /ʃ/ among the young is the End of the Norwegian Language as a Means of Communication as Well as Human Culture as We Know It.

  44. David Marjanović says

    Hoove is better than röntgen “to X-ray”.

    properly Mannerschnitten™

    Manner actually calls them Neapolitaner.

    or even a cone, although if you want that specifically, you say Hörnchen.


    I’m not surprised the word used is different from the one in Austria, though, where this is basically the only occurrence of Tüte in the wild – while in Germany that’s the basic term for a plastic bag and many other such containers.

    Hörnchen, interestingly, is instead applied to quarter-circle tube-shaped noodles that are notably not conical.

  45. nbmandel says

    I happne to have a bag of these cookies in my house at this moment, the little cube-shaped layered kind, and they are “[bite sized] cream filled wafer cookies.” If they were just “vanilla wafers,” or Nabisco’s “Nilla Wafers,” without the cream filling, they would, as someone said, be a simple flat, soft cookie and good for icebox cakes (and nothing else). As far as cones go, you can get wafer cones, which are pale, crisp, flaky, rapidly soggying, very much like these airy shattery wafer cookies that melt in your mouth, and shaped like a torch with a crownlike tip for the ice cream to sit in; or sugar cones, which are your standard brown hard crunchy ones in a plain cone shape; or if your ice cream joint is fancy, waffle cones, bigger, tastier, and sometimes made fresh there.

  46. Even if I personally prefer it, I accept that the standard (“sugar”) cone originally arose as a bastardization of a version of the waffle or wafer cone. I can see the advantages of the sugar cone design: reducing leaks, lower cost, sturdiness and shelf stability.

  47. John Cowan says

    I happen to have a bag of these cookies in my house at this moment, the little cube-shaped layered kind, and they are “[bite sized] cream filled wafer cookies.” If they were just “vanilla wafers,” or Nabisco’s “Nilla Wafers,” without the cream filling, they would, as someone said, be a simple flat, soft cookie and good for icebox cakes (and nothing else).

    For me, vanilla wafers is ambiguous between these two cookie types. However, chocolate/strawberry/lemon/etc. wafers (I prefer the last of these) can only be type 1; Nilla Wafers, being a brand name, can only be type 2.

  48. “a waffle filled with ice cream, or even a cone”

    @Hans, as I understand, “a cone” is a waffle cone filled with ice cream. Then what is “a waffle filled with ice cream” and why “even”?
    In USSR the usual shape was a stakan.

    I heard about rozhók “little horn” (Hörnchen), but I only began seeing those in 90s, they were imported and less tasty (I think nbmandel calls it “wafer cones”).

    Rozhók is a name of various cone shaped things, also one of names for a shoehorn (as in English) and colloqially a magazine (of a rifle. I guess I can translate it as “clip”).

    I suppose it could originally refer to a powder flask? I recently saw a description of an officer repremanding children during НВП lessons for using the word: “you’ll by yourself a rozhók in a laryók [kiosk, stall (where ice cream is sold)], and this is a magazin!” Magazin also means “shop”.

  49. powder flask
    Or is it just because magazines are often curved?

  50. ice cream on a waffle turns up at a lot of diners, but i don’t think of it as having any connection to ice cream cones – more, if anything, to an ice cream sundae. and to me the basic unmarked cone for ice cream (proper ice cream, not soft serve) is a sugar cone, as opposed to either a wafer cone (which some see as the basic version – for me it’s only that for soft serve) or a waffle cone (which is the fancier, leakier version of a sugar cone).

    i think “hoover(ing)” was around as a generic term in the u.s. down to the 1950s or 60s, based on my family’s spread of vacuuming terms, but by my generation it’s definitely only an aesthetic gesture, as in stephin merritt’s wonderful verse*:

    we’ve got so many tchotchkes / we’ve practically emptied the louvre
    in most of our palaces / there’s hardly room to maneuver
    well i shan’t go to bali today / i must stay home and hoover
    up the gold dust
    but that doesn’t mean we’re in love

    * sung here by claudia gonson in the twenty-year celebration for 69 Love Songs, with a russian-leaning final vowel on טשאָטשקעס, which i can’t at the moment remember whether is litvish, odessan, or what, but isn’t unusual for final ע in american yiddish.

  51. In USSR the usual shape was a stakan.

    Your link brought me to one of the most amazing and delightful etymologies I’ve ever seen:

    Inherited from Middle Russian стака́нъ (stakán), from достака́нъ (dostakán), from Old East Slavic достоканъ (dostokanŭ), borrowed from Turkic dialectal dostaqan (compare Chagatai tostakan, “wooden bowl”), Kazakh тостаған (tostağan, “wooden cup”), Tatar тустыган (tustığan, “cup”), Bashkir туҫтаҡ (tuθtaq, “cup for drinking koumiss”)), borrowed from Persian دوستگان‎ (dustgân), دوستکان‎ (dustkân, “beloved; wine that is drunk with one’s beloved; big drinking cup”), from دوستکام‎ (dustkâm, “beloved”), from دوست‎ (dôst) + کام‎ (kâm).

  52. @LH, what I love about this word is that it was reborrowed (استکان) but yes, the etymology is absolutely amazing. (this is why I linked this entry insteach of pictures with ice cream…)

  53. I had apparently misunderstood what sone (most?) people meant by “wafer cone.” To me that meant a more delicate version of a waffle cone, baked in a flat iron on site and (like a waffle cone), curled up before it cooled. However, rozele clearly was referring to what I grew up calling a “cake cone.” My mother preferred cake cones, so that was what we always had at home when I was a kid. However, I considered them obviously inferior knockoffs of the sugar cones found in Ice cream parlors.

  54. Kate Bunting says

    Keith Ivey said:

    ‘That’s “Neapolitan ice cream” in the US.’

    In the UK too.

  55. David Marjanović says

    I’d never have guessed the different shapes of cones (or… wafer cups in one case) are made from different cardboard dough!

  56. Trond Engen says

    Tress or trikolor in Norwegian. Both started as brand names. It’s not a thing of the past either. It was served for the afternoon coffee break at my job this Thursday.

    There’s a well-known cultural divide between those who prefer one flavor and serve themselves exclusively from that and those who take equal parts of each color and leave the balance unchanged for the next in line.

  57. Keith Ivey says

    I’m not sure what I called the wafer/cake cones, but I avoided them at all costs. They seemed like eating styrofoam. Fortunately they seem to have mostly disappeared over the years. I guess they have the advantage that you can put them down, because of the flat bottom, but that’s hardly enough to outweigh the inferior flavor and texture.

  58. Trond Engen says

    Heh, in my subjective experience the wafer or cake cones are the good ones, and they were a clear improvement when they became common sometime after my childhood. Maybe we still talk about different things. The alternative I can think of is these, with a distinct cardboard character.

    I agree that cones made at the site from batter would be nice, but I’ve never seen that anywhere. That would be like krumkaker, one of the traditional Christmas cookies.

  59. Keith Ivey says

    Trond, that looks like it’s made from the same stuff as the “styrofoam” ones I was talking about, just shaped differently. The better ones that are more common nowadays are sugar cones.

  60. That would be like krumkaker, one of the traditional Christmas cookies.

    My wife makes those, and I love them.

  61. @Hans, as I understand, “a cone” is a waffle cone filled with ice cream. Then what is “a waffle filled with ice cream” and why “even”?
    What I was trying to say is that Eiswaffel could mean one of three things when I was a child:
    1) A type of waffle usually served with a bowl of ice cream.
    2) An ice cream sandwich made of waffles (what I called “a waffle filled with ice cream” in my comment).
    3) An ice cream cone – just the cone, without the ice cream.
    Going by the results of my Google search for “Eiswaffel” in 3), meaning 2) doesn’t seem to be in general use; maybe it was limited to our family or to the specific time and place of my childhood.
    @dm: as I’m googling anyway, here some results showing Hörnchen referring to ice cream cones.

  62. In Ireland, HB Neapolitan ice-cream is Vanilla, Strawberry and Lemon. My guess is that back in the 1950s chocolate flavour was too expensive.

    Although “wafer” and “waffle” are etymologically related, the concepts are quite distinct to me, even though a thing can be both. Is there any language where one word covers both?

  63. I had a comment here with four links – it seems to be gone?

  64. Trond Engen says

    @Hat: Yeah, I suspected as much. We’ve probably discussed it before, in one of those end-of-year holiday gluttony threads. I’ve never thought of a common origin with wafers before, but the invention of the cast-iron iron for one sort of cake could well have facilitated the development of the other.

    @Keith: Now I think we agree perfectly. I probably just lost track.

  65. David Marjanović says

    Most languages, I’d have thought. Certainly Standard German Waffel covers at least the dough part of everything mentioned in this thread, I think. I’d also use French gaufre this way, though I’m much less sure about that.

  66. Stu Clayton says

    I had a comment here with four links – it seems to be gone?

    I was an eyewitness to that comment, and followed the links in it. Ms. Akismet, you are a real passive-aggressive piece of shit – springing a comment delete on Hans not immediately, but only when he least expects it.

    Like people, software can be mean – and that has nothing to do with “intelligence”. It suggests only, but strongly, that credulity should stay way down the list of one’s stock reponses.

  67. I have restored the wayward comment; thanks for alerting me.

  68. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    The technical sense of wafer, like those things you make computer chips from, doesn’t really have a word in Danish except for the English loan. A sandwich is just a sandwich too, so nothing there to help. (With rye bread it might be a klapsammen-mad, but I don’t think you’d use klapsammen in a technical sense).

    The exquisite mint wafer of Meaning of LIfe fame is certainly not a vaffel. The best Danish WP can come up with is “mintplade dækket med et tyndt lag chokolade”. One for the “no word for” files.

  69. Keith Ivey says

    What about communion waffles?

  70. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Those are oblater. A quick glance at WP.en for wafer does not show me anything except the “Neapolitan” ones (there called “Israeli”) that would be called a vaffel in Danish. Not even the flat ones used for ice cream sandwiches, nor stroopwafels.

  71. @LH: Thanks for rescuing my comment. That was indeed the first time that I saw a comment vanish after first showing up.
    Re Hörnchen : In a spirit of scientific inquiry, I routed my daily walk today to the nearest Italian restaurant-cum-ice-cream-parlour. I wanted to check what they call cones, but unfortunately, their price list only shows pictures of cones and cups, no written designations. When I asked for a Hörnchen with two scoops, I was understood correctly, but of course I can’t say whether this was because the server knew the term or whether he just deducted what I meant. The ice cream was delicious. I hope you all appreciate this soecial effort I put into linguistic field work, for Science and for Language Hat!

  72. David Marjanović says

    The technical sense of wafer, like those things you make computer chips from, doesn’t really have a word in Danish except for the English loan. A sandwich is just a sandwich too, so nothing there to help.

    Same in German, and for Oblaten (or, when consecrated, Hostien) too.

  73. John Cowan says

    When I ordered a large ice-cream cone from a soft-serve place, it would have a pointy bottom, whereas a small cone would have a flat bottom. The number of scoops varied too, of course. I think the idea was that small-cone-eaters tended to be children, who benefited from the flat bottom.

  74. @John Cowan: In your idiolect, can you speak of “scoops” with soft serve? I can’t, and in fact, I don’t think I have any specific word for the amount of soft-serve ice cream dispensed onto a cone.

  75. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    @JC. you can’t really make a flat-bottomed “waffle” from the cake batter version, or at least people don’t try–you could probably press the thing into a form when hot and get plausible results, or do some origami-like folding operation–so the non-cone option here is a low cardboard beaker (bæger). Which is good for gluten-intolerant people like me, because you more or less have to eat the cones to get at the ice cream. (You get a little spoon with the beakers).

  76. Trond Engen says

    Koppkaker, i.e. krumkaker for Christmas desserts, are shaped by pressing the freshly made cake into a teacup or small bowl.

  77. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Krumkaker seem to be very similar to Danish kræmmerhuse, except that the latter are baked in the oven and not on a griddle so they don’t get a pattern.

    @Trond, your link doesn’t, and all Google hits for koppkaker are for cupcake- or muffin-like abominations that you mix in a cup and nuke.

    Our kitchen does contain a set of tinned forms for tarteletter (which nobody bakes themselves now), I bet they could be abused for freshly baked kræmmerhuse dough if sufficiently buttered. That would be pretty. (Actually Google tells me that you shape tarteletter over an inverted form, so the original purpose must have been something else. Some large cookie, I guess).

  78. Trond Engen says

    New try.

    Krumkaker are not baked on a griddle but in an iron. Modern and traditional krumkakejern.

  79. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Maybe I don’t know what a griddle is, then. Sorry for the misinformation. We do call ours vaffeljern, but what’s the likehood of that translating directly into English?

  80. David Marjanović says


    If you don’t have outright celiac disease, it’s probably an allergy to wheat proteins. That’s pretty common.

  81. Trond Engen says

    Griddle on WP

    Norw. takke, traditionally used for baking lefse and flatbread.

  82. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    @DM, there was an article in my health insurance newsletter recently about celiac disease, or rather the (autoimmune?) deterioration of the intestinal lining that inhibits vitamin uptake, saying that only about 40% of people with that problem have the classical symptoms. Some have no symptoms at all except severe vitamin deficiency, and it can take a long time for doctors to diagnose them correctly. (And to get it diagnosed, you need to eat food with gluten for two weeks so there will be antibodies [or something] in your blood. For me it’s easier to just avoid gluten and the immediate unpleasantness it causes, and fly blind as regards the vitamin issue).

    The point being that the professor being interviewed classed all the variants as “celiac disease.” I’m not invested in having or not having that, the main takeaway for me is that ignoring it has a risk of causing worse problems, so I made my regimen a little stricter. (No beer, only whisky. It’s a tough life).

    Speaking of wheat: barley and rye are just as bad for me, which I think makes gluten a more likely culprit. (Barley has about half as much as wheat, while rye has only one half of the gluten protein–unfortunately the half that causes celiac disease–so it cannot rise the same way).

  83. David Marjanović says

    the professor being interviewed classed all the variants as “celiac disease.”


    Anyway, for food purposes, gluten pretty much equates wheat, so avoid it all the same.

  84. John Cowan says

    In your idiolect, can you speak of “scoops” with soft serve?

    Well, obviously I can, because I did. But on reflection it is infelicitous for me to do so.

  85. vaffeljern, but what’s the likehood of that translating directly into English

    pretty good, actually! (and either cognate or parallel)

    personally, i’d be fine describing a waffle iron as “a special hinged cast-iron griddle”, though it does push the meaning of “griddle” about as far as it comfortably goes for me (“heated sheet of metal that you fry things with”).

  86. Norw. takke, traditionally used for baking lefse and flatbread

    I gather that Norwegian takke is a relatively recent borrowing of Finnish takka ‘hearth, fireplace’, itself from a Swedish dialectal form of stack, stacke ‘pile, heap, stack’.

    But I wonder, how did the Finnish word enter Norwegian? Through Kven? And under what circumstances?

  87. Trond Engen says

    @Xerib: Thanks for asking. I woke up this morning thinking that I must look it up.

    First, I’m pretty sure I learned the word myself in recent decades as a term for electric metal griddles especially, and only later encountered griddles for use on gas or open fire. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it used of stone slabs.

    Second, my impression is that the word never was universal in Norwegian. In most regions the term would be some variant of bakstehelle “baking slab”.

    Third, actually looking it up, Grunnmanuskriptet says it was used in Eastern and Inner Southwestern dialects. That speaks of a borrowing from the east. The path would not be through the northern Kvens but through the slash-and-burn Skogfinner (Forest Finns)*. But the Forest Finn settlement was much stronger in Sweden than in Norway, so I would guess that the back-borrowing into Scandinavian took place in Sweden, and that the word spread to Norwegian as a term for a new product — cast iron “baking slabs”, from the Swedish iron industry.

    Fourth, since Finnish takka means “fireplace”, we have another entry to the list of borrowings with specialized meaning.

    Fifth, the Finnish etymological dictionary says that it’s a borrowing from Swedish. Wiktionary is more specific and says “A loan from dialectal Sw. stakka (“fireplace”)”. But I don’t know when and where and how “heap” came to mean “fireplace”. SAOB doesn’t know that sense of the word. If the alleged Swedish form is a ghost, the narrowing from “heap (of something, e.g. stones)” to “well-ordered structure of stones” could have happened when the word entered Finnish.

    * Note their brand new flag.

  88. PlasticPaddy says

    Would another pathway via “heap of coals” > “heap of burning coals” > fireplace be possible? The sense “heap of coals” seems to be listed under “stack” in SAOB…

  89. Trond Engen says

    Perhaps, but burning coals wasn’t common in Finland or Sweden. Maybe through “pile of peat” and/or “pile of firewood”? In Grunnmanuskriptet stakka v. means “pile (up); cover”, also specifically peat. ON stakka f. meant “stump of something (e.g. a tree)”.

    Anyway, for the documented geographical distribution in Norwegian to work, I’m imagining the vector to be travelling utensil salesmen rather than a wholesale mass-market operation.

  90. actually looking it up, Grunnmanuskriptet says it was used in Eastern and Inner Southwestern dialects. That speaks of a borrowing from the east. The path would not be through the northern Kvens but through the slash-and-burn Skogfinner (Forest Finns)

    Thank you for that full answer, Trond Engen! Very interesting, especially about the Skogfinner!

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