This week, in a French class I attend, another student wanted to know how to say “cookie” in French.

I expected the teacher to respond with le biscuit.  Instead, he responded with le petit gateau.  In French, the word for cake is gateau.  A cookie, then, is a little cake.  Le petit gateau.

Where does our word cookie come from, I wondered.  After all, cookie is a strange word when you stop and think about it.  Could we not call anything cooked a cookie?

Turns out, cookie and cook are not even related.

Cook comes from the Latin word coquere, meaning, to cook.  Coquere is the source of words like terra cotta (cooked earth), concoct (to cook up), a concoction (something cooked up), precocious (early, literally before it’s done cooking), charcuterie (cooked meats), and ricotta (recooked).

Cookie, on the other hand, comes from the Dutch word Koekje meaning, like the French petit gateau, “little cake”.

While we are on the topic of cookies, how in the world does sugar cookie get to call itself sugar cookie?  All cookies are sugar cookies, and most cookies taste much better than sugar cookies.  In order of importance, sugar cookie actually ranks pretty low on this list that I totally made up.

  1. Chocolate chip cookie.
  2. Cream Cheese cutout cookies.
  3. Dutch Speculoos Cookies
  4. Oreos
  5. Biscoff cookies
  6. Shortbread cookies
  7. Fortune cookies
  8. Sugar cookies

Shame on you, sugar cookie.


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