Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A dark molasses cake flavored with ginger.
  • noun A molasses and ginger cookie cut in various shapes, sometimes elaborately decorated.
  • noun Elaborate ornamentation.
  • noun Superfluous or tasteless embellishment, especially in architecture.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Having a fanciful shape, such as is often given to gingerbread; showy but unsubstantial or inartistic: (see gingerbread-work); as, gingerbread fittings on a yacht.
  • noun A kind of sweet cake flavored with ginger, it is often made in fanciful shapes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A kind of plain sweet cake seasoned with ginger, and sometimes made in fanciful shapes.
  • noun (Bot.) the doom palm; -- so called from the resemblance of its fruit to gingerbread. See Doom Palm.
  • noun ornamentation, in architecture or decoration, of a fantastic, trivial, or tawdry character.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A type of cake whose main flavouring is ginger and that is typically cut into human-shaped pieces called gingerbread men or built into house-shaped cakes called gingerbread houses.
  • noun architecture A flamboyant Victorian-era architectural style.

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

  • noun cake flavored with ginger

Etymologies

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

[Middle English gingebred, a stiff pudding, preserved ginger, alteration (influenced by bred, bread, bread) of Old French gingembrat, from Medieval Latin *gingibrātum, from gingiber, ginger; see ginger.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French gingembras, gingimbrat, preserved ginger, from medieval Latin *gingi(m)br?t-um, (ginger that perhaps had a pharmaceutical use for some medicinal preparation), from medieval Latin gingiber, ginger. The third syllable was early confounded with bread, and the insertion of an r in the second syllable completed the semblance of a compound word.

Examples

  • Why not make a gingerbread man from... um..gingerbread?

    The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

  • This would be a pinnacle year for us in gingerbread house construction.

    » The Great Gingerbread Caper Strocel.com

  • Indeed, although Chick laughed at the bear, the gingerbread man grew quite nervous as the big beast advanced and sniffed at him curiously -- almost as if it realized John was made of gingerbread and that gingerbread is good to eat.

    Archive 2008-06-01

  • The characters of the story are a young married couple, Della and James Dillingham Young, and you can see them portrayed above in gingerbread dough and white icing.

    Gingerbread (Novel Food #6) « Baking History

  • The characters of the story are a young married couple, Della and James Dillingham Young, and you can see them portrayed above in gingerbread dough and white icing.

    2008 December « Baking History

  • The competition was meant to promote thinking on sustainability (rather than pit the best architects and designers in gingerbread land against each other), so the submissions were judged primarily on the clever incorporation of sustainable design elements with a sprinkling of visionary confection.

    Bake For A Change: Contest Winners Announced! | Inhabitat

  • You know, the ones where witches lived in gingerbread houses and tried to fatten Bavarian children up before eating them.

    ...um, Hellboy? Witches? Conan?

  • Construction gingerbread is a bit different from the gingerbread you might bake for a holiday dessert because it needs to be a bit sturdier than your average cookie to support the weight of the rest of the building and all the decorations.

    The Gingerbread Architect | Baking Bites

  • HT, the combination of pancake and gingerbread is too good.

    Gingerbread pancakes for Shrove Tuesday | Homesick Texan

  • Victorian houses are sometimes called gingerbread houses for their elaborate porch and gable ornamentation.

    Negative space.

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • Also heavily, gaudily, and superfluously ornamented

    Commonly used in reference to late 19th century Victorian architecture

    February 17, 2008

  • They flanked opposite ends of the house and were probably architectural absurdities, redeemed in a measure indeed by not being wholly disengaged nor of a height too pretentious, dating, in their gingerbread antiquity, from a romantic revival that was already a respectable past.

    --Henry James, 1898, The Turn of the Screw

    November 19, 2009

  • Hot gingerbread with whipped cream would taste good about now.

    December 14, 2010

  • *tosses a gingerbread fuflun at hernesheir*

    December 16, 2010

  • Usage and note on word/culinary origins can be found on gingembras. Also here's more: 

    "Intermediate markets, such as Montpellier, served as regional suppliers, so that spice merchants from all over southern France would obtain their spices from what functioned as both a wholesale and retail market. Montpellier was known for special preparations made with the spices it acquired from international merchants. Among complex medical compounds, the theriac of Montpellier was particularly prized (see note on theriac for more info such as ingredients). Medieval gingerbread and preserved ginger from Montpellier were sold throughout France and beyond its borders, commanding prices twice as high as comparable confections made anywhere else. Nuremberg was another center for the distribution of spices, in this case for central Europe. To this day the town is famous for its spiced Christmas cakes and gingerbread."

    Paul Freedman, <i>Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination</i> (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2008), 116.

    December 2, 2016