Origin of the word Mess?

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#2
When it first appeared in English, mess meant a portion of food. This came from the Old French mes, “a dish”, which in modern French is spelt mets. This comes ultimately from the Latin missus, strictly “to put, send” but which could also mean “a course at a meal” (that is, something put on the table).

In the fifteenth century, mess came to refer to a group of people, usually four in number, who sat together at a meal and were served from the same dishes. This soon evolved into a name of any group that ate together. For example, in warships, a group of a dozen or so men would usually sit together at one table and were served from the same dishes; this was one mess, and those who habitually sat together were messmates; the room was often called a mess-room, a space that contained a set of messes. By an obvious process, mess-room was itself later contracted to mess, so confusing the place where one ate with the groups of people one ate with.

At one time mess could also refer to any cooked dish, especially one which was liquid or pulpy; this is best remembered in the mess of pottage for which Esau sold his birthright in the Bible (though the phrase doesn’t appear in the Authorised Version of 1611). The sense of a confused jumble or a dirty or untidy state, which is the first association we have for mess nowadays, evolved from this meaning and seems to have been a disparaging reference to such sloppy food. It is actually a very recent usage, dating only from the nineteenth century (it’s first recorded in Webster’s Dictionary in 1828).
http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-mes1.htm
 
#4
mmm, thought it was from spanish, messir / messer, for table - but i can find no reference for this!
 
#5
In NI they still refer to "messages" meaning, foodstuff.

Most confused when a woman said she was off to the shop to collect her messages...
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#6
Bravo_Bravo said:
In NI they still refer to "messages" meaning, foodstuff.

Most confused when a woman said she was off to the shop to collect her messages...
& Scotland
 
#7
oldbaldy said:
This comes ultimately from the Latin missus, strictly “to put, send”
That's the first I've heard of a verb conjugating like a noun...shouldn't that be miseo?
 
#9
Its the state I am in everytime I leave
 
#10
OP_ACK said:
I have been asked where the term Mess, as in Officers or Sergeants Mess originated from, any ideas?

Thanks
Because thats what it is after a Regimental dinner night.

BT. :lol:
 
#11
goon_bde said:
mmm, thought it was from spanish, messir / messer, for table - but i can find no reference for this!
Spanish for table is "Mesa".
 
#12
Brew_Time said:
OP_ACK said:
I have been asked where the term Mess, as in Officers or Sergeants Mess originated from, any ideas?

Thanks
Because thats what it is after a Regimental dinner night.

BT. :lol:
Plus the state of your head after a levvy night :pissed:
 
#14
The_IRON said:
Brew_Time said:
OP_ACK said:
I have been asked where the term Mess, as in Officers or Sergeants Mess originated from, any ideas?

Thanks
Because thats what it is after a Regimental dinner night.

BT. :lol:
Plus the state of your head after a levvy night :pissed:
Sorry mate, wrong,

Anytime you leave the mess,

Ah, f*ck, unprofesional, that why I didn't get my Staffy!
 
#15
Carcass said:
oldbaldy said:
This comes ultimately from the Latin missus, strictly “to put, send”
That's the first I've heard of a verb conjugating like a noun...shouldn't that be miseo?
Oldbaldy..go collect a prize for the first ever conjugator of the Verb/noun :D
 
#16
Rainbow-Warrior said:
they still refer to getting their "messages" in the south of Ireland (it was a map reading error - honest!)
messages
// n.pl. errands; shopping (HE usage, often it means doing the shopping for someone else) < E < ME message. 'I must do the messages before I go to the Stations of the Cross', 'Be a good girsha (q.v.) and bring in the messages for me from the car, will you?'; Joyce F.W., 34-35: "He is a man of around fifty . . . who does messuages", Healy, Nineteen Acres, 8: "The child ran the messages".
http://www.hiberno-english.com/archive.php

Also in Hiberno-English words like

Strand = Beach
Press = Cupboard
Childer = Children (in Dublin anyway)
Mot = girlfriend (Dublin again)

are from early modern English (15th-17th century usages*). Messages for groceries also probably in this category, probably even older.

Gombeen = Loan-shark
Slua or Slew = Crowd or large quantity

are some examples from Irish Gaelic

Even possibly the odd word from French;

Gassoon = boy or youth (garçon?)

http://www.hiberno-english.com/history.htm
 
#18
I know this is a bit late after the original post but I believe that the correct answer is as follows. As you will know a group of crows is called 'A Murder of Crows' by the same token a group of Officers is called 'A Mess of Officers'. If I remember correctly this was even on Steve Wrights Big Show a couple of months back.
 

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