Definitions

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

  • n. Whatever food happens to be available for a meal, especially when offered to a guest: Having arrived unannounced for supper, we had to take potluck.
  • n. A meal at which each guest brings food that is then shared by all. Also called potluck supper.
  • n. Whatever is available at a particular time: The scheduled flight was canceled and passengers had to take potluck on the other airlines.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A meal, especially one offered to a guest, consisting of whatever is available.
  • n. Whatever is available in a particular situation.
  • n. A meal consisting of whatever guests have brought, particularly from different parts of the world; a potlatch.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Whatever may chance to be in the pot, or may be provided for a meal.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. What may chance to be in the pot, in provision for a meal; hence, a meal at which no special preparation has been made for guests.

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

  • n. whatever happens to be available especially when offered to an unexpected guest or when brought by guests and shared by all

Etymologies

Spelled pot-luck before the 20th century, from pot +‎ luck. The sense “meal offered by a host to an unexpected guest” dates to 1592; into the early 20th century, the word was used only to mean “meal provided by the host”.[2][3][4] (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Later on inauguration day, Nixon was hosting what he described as a potluck dinner for the public.

    Neosho Daily News Homepage RSS

  • And then there were the endless church suppers where you could always find a big bowl of it in potluck purgatory alongside the green jiggling Jell-O and fruit salad made with tiny marshmallows.

    End of winter carrot and raisin salad | Homesick Texan

  • When I moved to Rhode Island, I landed smack dab in potluck country, where the pressure to come up with new things to bring to dinner can be intense.

    King Ranch Chicken | Homesick Texan

  • One of our favorite appetizers for a potluck is just a brick of cream cheese spread with berry jam and Chipotle sauce poured over it, serve with crackers.

    Best Things To Bring Back

  • Riley and Griego got cooking nearly three years ago when they became mid-term potluck roommates in Jayhawker Towers.

    LJWorld.com stories: News

  • I can't wait to see y'all again -- the potluck was a blast.

    Tastes that are as big as Texas | Homesick Texan

  • On December 12, we in Michoacan will celebrate International Migrant's Day with a potluck, which is supposed to represent the country from which each participant hails.

    What to bring?

  • A potluck is a meal made up of dishes that have been cryogenically entombed in the freezers of church members for decades.

    The God of Yes

  • Pairing wine with a potluck is a real challenge - you can't make an informed wine decision when you don't know what your guests are bringing and haven't tasted the dishes.

    Payson Roundup stories

  • Coming up soon is a community potluck, which is open to the public.

    Marshall Democrat-News Headlines

Comments

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  • Ha!

    November 13, 2008

  • Conversation subsequent to the potluck held by our food activist group about a month ago: -
    Foodie 1: That lentil and onion dip was excellent.
    Foodie 2: Thanks. I like the recipe too.
    Foodie 1: It went so well with the bread.
    Foodie 2: Yeah, funny that. Amazing what you can find in a dumpster.
    Foodie 1: What? You got the bread from a dumpster?!
    Foodie 2: Would have gone to waste otherwise.
    Foodie 1: And brought it along here?!
    Foodie 2: Why not?
    Foodie 1: I feel violated.

    November 13, 2008

  • Antonym of potlatch.

    September 3, 2008