pret·zel (prĕt’səl)
n. A soft or brittle glazed biscuit that is usually salted on the outside and baked in the form of a loose knot or stick.
[German Brezel, from Middle High German brēzel, prēzel, from Old High German brēzila, brezzitella, from Medieval Latin bracellus, alteration of Medieval Latin *brāchiātellus, diminutive of Latin bracchiātus, having branches like arms (in reference to the traditional form of a pretzel said to be made to look like arms folded in prayer), from bracchium, arm, from Greek brakhīōn, upper arm; see mregh-u-.]
Word History: In the early 1800s, the pretzel was considered a stereotypically German food, and the first known occurrences of the word pretzel in English date from the first half of the 1800s and are often found in descriptions of the German diet. Pretzel comes from a German word that is now spelled Brezel in modern standard German. The English spelling pretzel with p probably reflects the pronunciation of Brezel in one of the dialects of southern Germany. In many of these dialects, the letters b and p are pronounced identically when they occur at the beginning of a word, and they have a sound that reminds English speakers of a p. In Germany, pretzels are traditionally associated with Lent and Easter, and the overlapping strands of dough in a pretzel are said to represent the arms of a person with hands folded in prayer. In fact, German Brezel is ultimately derived from the Latin word for "arm," bracchium. Brezel comes from the Medieval Latin word brāchellus, which referred to some sort of baked item, presumably like a pretzel. This Medieval Latin word is thought to be a shortened version of another Medieval Latin word, *brāchiatellus, that does not happen to be attested in any written documents preserved from the Middle Ages. In Latin, *brāchiatellus would literally mean something like "little thing with arms." It is the diminutive of another Medieval Latin word braciātus that is actually attested in surviving Medieval Latin documents and refers to some sort of baked good eaten by monks on holidays. This Medieval Latin word developed from the Late Latin word bracchiātus, meaning "having boughs or branches like arms," itself a derivative of Latin bracchium, "arm." In this way, the history of the word pretzel accords with the widespread tradition that a monk living in France or northern Italy invented the knotted shape of a pretzel in order to symbolize arms folded in prayer.

Word Histories. 2014.

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  • Pretzel — ist der Name folgender Personen: Ernst Pretzel (1887–1943), deutscher Politiker (NSDAP) Raimund Pretzel, bürgerlicher Name des deutschen Publizisten Sebastian Haffner (1907−1999) Ulrich Pretzel (1898–1981), deutscher Germanist eine amerikanische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Pretzel — Pret zel, n. [G. pretzel, bretzel. Cf. {Bretzel}.] A kind of German biscuit or cake in the form of a twisted ring, salted on the outside. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Pretzel — (Bäckerei), so v.w. Bretzel …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • pretzel — (n.) 1856, from Ger. Prezel, also Brezel, from O.H.G. brezitella, from M.L. *brachitellum, presumably a kind of biscuit baked in the shape of folded arms (Cf. It. bracciatella, O.Prov. brassadel), dim. of L. bracchiatus with branches, with arms,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • pretzel — ► NOUN chiefly N. Amer. ▪ a crisp biscuit baked in the shape of a knot or stick and flavoured with salt. ORIGIN German …   English terms dictionary

  • pretzel — ☆ pretzel [pret′səl ] n. [Ger brezel < OHG brezitella < ML * brachiatellum, dim. of * brachiatum, biscuit baked in form of crossed arms < L brachium, an arm: see BRACE1] a usually hard, brittle biscuit made from a slender roll of dough… …   English World dictionary

  • Pretzel — A pretzel is a bread pastry of German origin, that has the shape of a three looped knot or twisted braid. Pretzels are either soft or hard. Hard pretzels have evolved into a variety of shapes from knotted loops to straight pretzel sticks (called… …   Wikipedia

  • Pretzel — Un pretzel duro. Un pretzel suave. Un pretzel …   Wikipedia Español

  • pretzel — /pret seuhl/, n. 1. a crisp, dry biscuit, usually in the form of a knot or stick, salted on the outside. 2. a larger version of this, made of soft, chewy bread dough. [1815 25, Amer.; < G Pretzel, var. of Bretzel; OHG brizzila < ML bracellus… …   Universalium

  • pretzel — UK [ˈprets(ə)l] / US [ˈpretsəl] noun [countable] Word forms pretzel : singular pretzel plural pretzels a type of cracker that people often eat between meals or with beer. It is baked in the shape of a stick or a knot and covered with salt …   English dictionary

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