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

  • n. A condiment consisting of a thick, smooth-textured, spicy sauce usually made from tomatoes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tomato-vinegar based sauce.
  • n. Such a sauce more generally (not necessarily based on tomatoes), or a specific brand or kind of such sauce – see usage notes below.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A pureed table sauce made predominantly from tomatoes, flavored with onions, sugar, salt and spices; called also tomato ketchup. The term is also applied to pureed sauces containing mushrooms, walnuts, etc., being called in such cases mushroom ketchup, walnut ketchup, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. See catchup.

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

  • n. thick spicy sauce made from tomatoes


Probably Malay kicap, fish sauce, possibly from Chinese (Cantonese) kē-chap, equivalent to Chinese (Mandarin) qié, eggplant + Chinese (Mandarin) zhī, sap, gravy.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1711, following earlier catchup (1690), of disputed origin. Originally referred to a sauce from South/Southeast/East Asia – 1690: East Indies (region generally); 1711: Tonkin (northern Vietnam) and China. (Wiktionary)



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  • See ketchup couverture.

    January 28, 2010

  • Rolig, I think catsup is a very common spelling; I'm not sure either is really preferred except by individuals. My understanding (which comes almost exclusively from Kurlansky's book, below, p. 189-191 acc. to Amazon) is that the word was originally something like "ke-tsiap" (going off vague memory here), and that pronunciation probably was more like catsup than ketchup.

    The "original" ke-tsiap (or however it was spelled, this being well before standardization) was a salt-preserved condiment sauce made from fermented inedible fish parts (e.g. heads, guts) and sounded to me a lot more similar to Worcestershire sauce than to what we know today as ketchup. But anyway... what we call catsup or ketchup can be made from a wide variety of foodstuffs--I've seen banana ketchup quite frequently, actually--but the most common seems to be the tomato.

    I don't know anyone who pronounces it cat-sup, though.

    October 6, 2008

  • As a child I learned the spelling "catsup" for this condiment, I think from the writing on our catsup bottle. Of course, I felt a certain awe for this word that could be spelled one way and pronounced entirely differently.

    October 6, 2008

  • THANK you. :-)

    October 4, 2008

  • *makes restitution*

    *beats chest in penance*

    October 4, 2008

  • C_b, you carelessly left "little tomatoey globules" unbracketed. Shame.

    October 4, 2008

  • p.s. this word has a pretty awesome etymology. And I highly recommend the couple of chapters in Mark Kurlansky's Salt for more history than you ever dreamed ketchup had in its little tomatoey globules.

    October 4, 2008

  • What? WeirdNet says it's a sauce...

    October 4, 2008

  • *snort*

    October 4, 2008

  • A type of fruit-butter, much like applesauce. According to discussion on criss-cross applesauce.

    October 4, 2008