Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Ketchup and Catsup

ketchupKetchup vs Catsup

In the current world, ketchup and catsup both refer to the spicy version of tomato sauce mixed with vinegar that is available around the world and is a popular accompaniment to snacks and fast food like French fries, burgers and pizzas. As such, there is no difference and are just two ways of spelling the word while the pronunciation is pretty much similar.

Etymologists state that both the words ketchup and catsup are borrowed from a Malay word ‘kechap’ or ‘kecap’. While the Anglicization of the word happened from the Malay word, there is an assumption that origins of this Malay word actually lie in some Cantonese dialect.

People must be surprised to note that this original ‘kechap’ had no tomatoes ‘“ in fact it was a condiment made of brine fish and other spices. The Malay version of the ‘kechap’ had some sweet soy sauce added to it to make it tangier.

Anglicized version of the word ‘kechap’ seems to have been made as early as 1690 ‘“ it was called ‘catchup’ from which the word ‘catsup’ originated. This fact is based on an entry made in the Dictionary of the Canting Crew in dated 1690. References to the Malay ‘kechap’ and the Anglicized word ‘ketchup’ have been made in the book ‘An Account of Trade in India’ by Charles Lockyer in the year 1711. So to some extent, one can say that ‘catchup’ pre-dates the word ‘ketchup’.

It is also said that the first recipe of ketchup appeared in the book ‘The Complete Housewife’ by Elizabeth Smith in the year 1727. For people who can get a copy of this recipe and read it, they would surely experience some sort of an anticlimax as the recipe contained shallots, anchovies, white wine, spices such as ginger, nutmeg and cloves, vinegar, lemon peel and pepper ‘“ but no tomatoes! The world took almost two centuries from there to introduce tomatoes as a base for ketchup. Until then, most ketchup or catsup recipes used mushrooms or walnuts as the base.

Reference to ‘catchup’ was made even in the middle of the 19th century as evidenced by a story from Scribner’s Magazine dating 1859 that mentioned ‘mushroom catchup’. Mention of the modified version of the word ‘catchup’, ‘catsup’ seems to have been initiated by Jonathan Swift in the year 1730.

Nowadays, while most manufacturers and consumers worldwide use the word ‘ketchup’, there are still people who use the other variants of the word ‘“ ‘catchup’, ‘catsup’ or ‘katsup’. And there are still ‘catsup’ recipes in circulation where tomato does not form the base such as apple catsup and Picante catsup.

1.Both the words are just two different anglicized versions of the original Malay word, ‘kechap’ which seems to have been borrowed from a Cantonese dialect
2.While both words originated around the same time, as such ‘catchup’ seems to have originated earlier than ‘ketchup’
3.Though ‘catsup’ is still in use, the more popular version used worldwide is ‘ketchup’.

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1 Comment

  1. Ketchup so good. It make me feel good when I dip my fry in it and eat it. Ketchup good. Catsup make me think of cat. Cat no good. They eat my lizard.

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