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Old 04 June 2010, 06:13 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
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Icon24 Making a toast

Comment: I'm in eighth grade, and I read in one of my history books (one
from the "History of Us" series) that the word "Toast", as in "I would
like to make a toast to ____" originated from medieval times when citizens
would drop a piece of bread in their wine to soak up the dregs. I looked
online, though, and heard it was a myth. Is it true?
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Old 04 June 2010, 07:00 PM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
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Well, the Online Etymology Dictionary supports this, at least partly. The first recorded use is from 1700, and is said to relate to using spiced toast to flavor wine, with the little speech being called a 'toast' because it adds spice to the gathering.

Wikipedia acknowledges this claim, but also suggests a possible ancient origin related to prayers offered while drinking wine and other spirits. That explains the practice much better than it explains the name.

Here's another suggestion - it is more complex and particularly dubious, IMHO, which probably means it is so, but I doubt there is proof -

To summarize variosu sources I checked: the use of the word 'toast' as a little speech usually associated with drinking some alcohol, seems to relate to an old practice of putting toasted bread into the glass of wine and/or beer. It does not seem to be to get the last little bit, but either as a flavoring or possibly as a sort of communcal drinking game, where the shared cup is passed around and the last person is expected to eat the toast. Bleah! Although a similar thing has been done with the bottles of tequila that have a worm at the bottom of them. Double bleah!
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Old 04 June 2010, 08:09 PM
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The OED has the definition of the earliest use of toast in this sense as:

1. A lady who is named as the person to whom a company is requested to drink; often one who is the reigning belle of the season. Now only Hist.
That is, in the "toast of the town" sense, but this is the sense that then feeds into the idea of a laudatory speech. The OED's given etymology is:

A figurative application of TOAST n.1, the name of a lady being supposed to flavour a bumper like a spiced toast in the drink.
See the Tatler, No. 24, of 2 June, and No. 31, of 18 June, 1709, in both of which toast is explained as a new name, upon the origin of which ‘the Learned differ very much’. No. 24 says that ‘many of the Wits of the last Age will assert’ that the term originated in an incident alleged to have occurred at Bath in the reign of Charles II, 1660-1684. No. 31 is silent as to the incident, and gives the account cited below.
So, if the OED's research is correct, then the link between the act of adding toast to the wine and the making of the speech is fallacious (or, perhaps, a coincidence that help reinforce the meaning, but was not the origin of the figurative meaning).

And some of the early citations:

1700 CONGREVE Way World III. x, More censorious than a decayed Beauty, or a discarded Toast.
1705 CIBBER Careless Husb. v. 63 Ay, Madam,..'t has been your Life's whole Pride of late to be the Common Toast of every Publick Table.
1709 STEELE Tatler No. 24 par. 9 This Whim gave Foundation to the present Honour..done to the Lady we mention in our Liquors, who has ever since been called a Toast.
Ibid. No. 31 par. 8 Then, said he, Why do you call live People Toasts? I answered, That was a new Name found out by the Wits to make a Lady have the same Effect as Burridge in the Glass when a Man is drinking.
Ibid. No. 71 par. 8 A Beauty, whose Health is drank from Heddington to Hinksey,..has no more the Title of Lady, but reigns an undisputed Toast.
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Old 04 June 2010, 08:26 PM
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Those who lament the younger generation's loss of communication skills, initiative, etc., would do well to read the OP email.
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Old 04 June 2010, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Avril View Post
Those who lament the younger generation's loss of communication skills, initiative, etc., would do well to read the OP email.
I know. Major run-on sentence there and I think an abuse of commas. Kids today.

* misspellings and grammatical flaws deliberately added for irony
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Old 04 June 2010, 09:46 PM
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ElectricBarbarella ElectricBarbarella is offline
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Even more interesting is that the History of US is a homeschool curriculum by Joy Hakim.

I would make a bet that this kid was told by his mom to write in as part of the assignment. So yeah, major kudos.

(and yes, I understand that I could be reading way too much into the OP. However, I do not know any public school that uses this program. At least not here in Florida. )
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