from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A piece of dough, sometimes filled, that is cooked in liquid such as water or soup.
  • n. Sweetened dough wrapped around fruit, such as an apple, baked and served as a dessert.
  • n. Informal A short, chubby creature.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A ball of dough that is cooked and may have a filling and/or additional ingredients in the dough.
  • n. A term of endearment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A roundish mass of dough boiled in soup, or as a sort of pudding; often, a cover of paste inclosing an apple or other fruit, and boiled or baked.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A kind of pudding or mass of boiled paste, or a wrapping of paste in which fruit is boiled.
  • n. A dwarf.
  • n. Any one of two or three species of dwarf, stemless, succulent evergreen plants belonging to the genus Mesembryan-themum, especially M. minimum, called the small dumpling, a plant only half an inch high, and M. obcordellum, called the greater dumpling, which is about an inch higher.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. small balls or strips of boiled or steamed dough
  • n. dessert made by baking fruit wrapped in pastry


Earlier dumplin, perhaps from dump, lump.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
perhaps an alteration of lump, possibly associated with -ling by popular etymology (Wiktionary)



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