Origin of ketchupuncertain or unknown; perhaps via Malay k?chap, a fish sauce ; from Chinese ke-tsiap
also catch·up or cat·sup
Origin of ketchupMalay kicap, sauce made from fermented fish, from Chinese (Hokkien) kê-chiap : kê, pickled fish (from Middle Chinese xj&hhook;ja&tricolon;j also the source of Mandarin xié) + chiap, juice, sauce, brine (from Middle Chinese xj&hhook;ja&tricolon;j; also the source of Mandarin zh&imacron;).
(countable and uncountable, plural ketchups)
- (uncountable) A tomato-vinegar based sauce.
- (countable) Such a sauce more generally (not necessarily based on tomatoes), or a specific brand or kind of such sauce – .
- fish ketchup; fruit ketchup; mushroom ketchup
The term is now used almost exclusively to refer to tomato ketchup. However, at one time it was a more general term for sauce, and it is still occasionally used in this way, as with grape ketchup and mushroom ketchup.
The spelling ketchup became significantly preferred in the United States due to the popularity of Heinz Tomato Ketchup, which used this spelling since shortly after its introduction in 1876 (after earlier using catsup) to distinguish itself from competitors. Other major brands, such as Hunt, subsequently followed, with Del Monte only switching to ketchup in 1988.
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.
Most likely from Malay kicap, from Chinese Min Nan 鮭汁 (kê-chiap, “brine of fish (namely salmon)”), though precise path is unclear – there are related words in various Chinese dialects, and it may have entered English directly from Chinese. Cognate to Indonesian kecap, ketjap (“soy sauce”). Various other theories exist – see Ketchup: Terminology for extended discussion.
Catsup (earlier catchup) is an alternative Anglicization, still in use in U.S.