Could someone explain what the pudding means here. I'm a bit confused.

From the stammering and awkward conversation, she had with Haroun that day Naveed discovered to her consternation that her future husband had no ambitions and a tiny appetite. Nor was he in any hurry to have children. The confidence with which Naveed had stated, 'I'll fix him,' ebbed out of her in the physical presence of this pudding of a young man

From Salman Rushdie - Shame.

From wider context: Naveed met her future husband Haroun for the first time and is really disappointed.

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    A "pig of a man" is someone who looks like or behaves like a pig. A "pudding of a man" is someone who looks like a pudding, and has no spine or ambitions. Also, there's nothing special about him. He's bland. Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 8:26

1 Answer 1


As noted by the Oxford dictionary, the term "pudding" means a dessert of creamy consistency but can also be used informally as an insulting term for a person. In its informal sense, it carries connotations that the person is fat and stupid. See https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/pudding for the full explanation.

The insult - especially for a man - comes from the fact that a pudding is, by definition, very soft and typically shapeless (or taking the shape of the bowl in which it is served rather than having a strong shape of its own).

Naveed is clearly looking for a "manly" man who has ambitions, a strong appetite and a wish to start a family.

By using the term "pudding of a man" to refer to Haroun, the author shows that Naveed considers Haroun as weak, soft and shapeless.

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    Pudding is a creamy dessert in American English, but Rushdie is British-educated and was resident in the UK when he wrote Shame. I suspect he was thinking of the traditional solid pudding of dough or cake mixture boiled or steamed in a basin. like some of these (though Haroun presumably isn't fat if he has a small appetite). Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 9:04
  • @KateBunting - That's a great point, Kate! It explains the difference between the way in which I would normally use the term (as the British do) and the defined meaning from Lexico. I referred to the latter, because this site often penalises contributors who don't use references (which is a practice I don't agree with, because dictionaries very often miss common usage). Since the Lexico definition was good enough, I used it anyway.
    – EWalker
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 9:18
  • @KateBunting - BTW, I'd be happy for you to edit my answer, if you feel you can improve on it with your additional info and link.
    – EWalker
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 9:20
  • Your link is to the 'US dictionary' section of Lexico. If you select 'Dictionary' from the drop-down menu you get ' British A cooked sweet dish served after the main course of a meal.' Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 9:36

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