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See also: bellytimber


Alternative forms[edit]


belly +‎ timber


IPA(key): /ˈbɛliˌtɪmbə/


belly-timber (usually uncountable, plural belly-timbers)

  1. (archaic, now only humorous or regional) Food, provender.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:food
    • 1663, Samuel Butler, Hudibras, London: Printed by J. G. for Richard Marriot, under Saint Dunstan's Church in Fleetstreet, OCLC 43488441; republished as Henry G[eorge] Bohn, editor, Hudibras, by Samuel Butler; with Variorum Notes, Selected Principally from Grey and Nash, volume I, London: Henry G. Bohn, 1859, OCLC 224652699, part 1, canto 1:
      And tho' knights errant, as some think, / Of old did neither eat nor drink, / Because when thorough deserts vast, / And regions desolate, they past, / Where belly-timber above ground, / Or under, was not to be found [...]
    • 1718, Matthew Prior, "Alma; or, The Progress of the Mind", in Poems on Several Occasions, London: J[acob] Tonson and J. Barber, OCLC 458176403, canto III; republished in Samuel Johnson; Alexander Chalmers, The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper; including the Series Edited, with Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, by Dr. Samuel Johnson: And the Most Approved Translations. The Additional Lives by Alexander Chalmers, F.S.A. In Twenty-one Volumes. Hughes, Sheffield, Prior, Congreve, Blackmore, Fenton, Gay, volume X, London: Printed for J. Johnson [et al.], 1810, OCLC 163876838, page 202:
      The strength of every other member / Is founded on your belly-timber; / The qualms or raptures of your blood, / Rise in proportion to your food; [...]
    • 1820 March, [Walter Scott], chapter II, in The Monastery. A Romance. [...] In Three Volumes, volume II, Edinburgh: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, []; and for Archibald Constable and Co., and John Ballantyne, [], OCLC 892089409, page 82:
      I hope, a'gad, they have not forgotten my trunk-mails of apparel amid the ample provision they have made for their own belly-timber—Mercy, a'gad, I were finely holped up if the vesture has miscarried among the thievish Borderers!
    • 2004, Mark [Steven] Morton, Cupboard Love: A Dictionary of Culinary Curiosities, 2nd rev. edition, Toronto, Ont.: Insomniac Press, →ISBN, page 42:
      The term belly-timber, meaning food, [...] actually originated in the early seventeenth century as a commonplace, everyday term, although within fifty years it came to be seen as a ludicrous and affected compound; accordingly, after the mid seventeenth century, belly-timber was used only ironically, meaning that you could say it only while wiggling in the air two fingers of each hand. In Old English, the word timber originally meant house, having developed from an Indo-European source that meant to build. By the tenth century timber had come to mean building material, which was the sense from which belly-timber developed, food being the "building-material" of the human body.