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At dictionary.com, there is a bit of an inconsistency in the origins and meaning of two historical variants of the same (probably French) word:

Potage

noun, French Cookery.
1. soup, especially any thick soup made with cream.

Word Origin
C16: from Old French; see pottage.

... and Pottage

noun
1. a thick soup made of vegetables, with or without meat.

Word Origin
1175-1225; Middle English potage < Old French: literally, something in or from a pot.

Do these words refer to different kinds of soup?

Why are there two spelling variants in English?

  • have you checked etymonline.com? – marcellothearcane Aug 6 '17 at 17:32
  • An Etymonline search and Wikipedia's entries for pottage and potage may help, although at a precursory glance they are not very clear about the distinction, if any. – vpn Aug 6 '17 at 17:34
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    etymonline potage (n.) "thick soup," 1560s, from French potage "soup, broth" (see pottage, which is an earlier English borrowing of the same French word). The etymology seems pretty clear to me. As for the meaning, neither are much used today, and I doubt many people would distinguish them semantically (if they ever did, which also seems unlikely). – FumbleFingers Aug 6 '17 at 17:39
  • @FumbleFingers, the difference in meaning (if any), which is what the OP asked about, is what I was referring to as being unclear. – vpn Aug 6 '17 at 17:43
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    OED calls the potage spelling a "later reborrowing of the French word." So that explains why there are two different spellings. – RaceYouAnytime Aug 6 '17 at 21:56

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