This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Word To Use Today: pannage.

Here's a lovely word: pannage. (You say it PANNidge.)

Pannage sounds like something that's been cooked so long you can't tell what it is any more, and in fact in some ways that's not far from what it is.

Pannage is the stuff that pigs find if they root about, especially if they're set loose in woodland. Round here in England that would be mostly acorns and beechmast (the seeds from a beech tree) and other nuts such as chestnuts.

Sometimes, if the nuts haven't fallen yet, a cunning pig-owner may need the trees a sneaky bit of help...

14th century English Queen Mary Psalter

 Pannage is also a place where your pigs can look for this food, the right to let your pigs forage about, and, as well, any money exchanged in connection with it.

A system of pannage still exists in England's New Forest, where there's a special court for deciding the exact dates each year upon which pigs (with rings in their noses to stop them digging the whole place up) can be set loose.

But surely a lovely word like pannage is too satisfying a word to leave to pigs. It should be used to describe any food that greedy animals pick up as they go about their business. Anything eaten from a street stall, for instance.

Seoul, South Korea. Steamed corn, grilled chestnuts and tteok* (which is white rice cake), persimmons, cuttlefish, squid, octopus and filefish.

As we all know, there's nothing so necessary at times as a little light pannage.

Might be an idea to pass by any actual acorns, though.

Word To Use Today: pannage. This word comes from the Old French pasnage, from the Latin pascere to feed.

*Word starting with a double t!


  1. What was the reason for pannage?
    Was it considered a good food for pigs?

    To me, the word sounds like it means a cupboard full of pans!
    "She's sure got some pannage in her kitchen! " :)

  2. Yes, perhaps that's what pannage is. I knew it had to be something apart from pig fodder.
    Until fairly recently (100 years ago or so) every country-dweller who possibly could would keep a pig to fatten. They used pannage because they couldn't afford to let anything go to waste in a hungry world.

  3. Ah, that makes perfect sense!
    Thank you.

  4. Would pannage include the snacks Roald Dahl's Mr. Twit found in his beard?


    1. You're full of interesting philosophical questions, c.
      I think I'd say that pannage only covers snacks people find in other people's beards.