Scallop, dollop, wallop, gallop

In another forum there was a little discussion about potato scallops; real scallops, which are sea scallops, are delicious and very yummy and these days very fashionable bivalves. They crop up on Masterchef all the time, often accompanied by things such as black pudding or bacon. Potato scallops are completely different.

Potato scallops, which I first came across in Manchester in the 1970s,, are thick slices of raw potato, dipped in batter then deep-fried, usually at chip shops. I guess they were cheaper than battered fish, and more substantial than just chips. There was a gentle argument in the ‘conversation’ I was involved in about where these delicious treats originated; I think they must have independently been ‘invented’ across the country, judging by the responses! The name scallop no doubt comes from the French, escalope, which was from the Old French, from German originally.

This all led on to the word dollop, which I had assumed was a national word and probably onomatopœic… however it seems to have started in East Anglia, and probably came from the Scandinavian seamen who traded into the ports – rather like my East Anglian family the Elsdens! It was originally a tuft or patch or lump of grass, a word something like ‘dolp’. This reminded me of Gaelic, a sound is sometimes inserted between two consonants, this sound has a name it is ‘schwa’, and you can hear it when Irish people say ‘film’ and it sounds like ‘fil-um’, there’s an extra little bit in the word… Did a schwa get inserted into ‘dolp’ to make it dollop?

Read about schwas here:

So wallop… Well, instead of hit it mean gallop originally, and is a very old word, ‘hlaupan’, a Proto-Germanic word meaning to leap… from that it became gallop through several different languages over several thousand years, but only meant to hit at the beginning of the nineteenth century… did it come from hitting a horse to make it gallop? Coincidentally, I’m doing a MOOC (massive open on-line course) on Dutch, and have come across the verb ‘lopen’ which means to walk…

And gallop? Well, see ‘wallop’ above, but it specifically meant to run in leaps or bounds. My featured image is from a carousel – these favourite rides of mine are sometimes called ‘Jollity farm’ and sometimes called ‘Gallopping Horses’

To find out more about sea scallops, ten things you might not know, look here:


    1. Lois

      Well, do you know, as I was writing this I kept writing scollops and kept thinking I was mistaken – I’m sure in Manchester they were scollops! Thank you!! My spelling is not as bad as I thought it was! By the way – what do you call the little battery scraps you could also get from the chippy?

      Liked by 1 person

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