Happy burger day!

Vintage Metal Sign - Try Our Homestyle Hamburgers

Today is apparently National Burger Day. For those of us more interested in words than in food (who am I kidding?), here’s the etymology of burger (and of hamburger), courtesy of the Online Etymology Dictionary.

burger (n.)

1939, American English, shortened from hamburger (q.v.).

hamburger (n.)

1610s, “native of Hamburg;” the meat product so called from 1884, hamburg steak, named for the German city of Hamburg, though no certain connection has ever been put forth, and there may not be one unless it be that Hamburg was a major port of departure for German immigrants to United States. Meaning “a sandwich consisting of a bun and a patty of grilled hamburger meat” attested by 1912. Shortened form burger attested from 1939; beefburger was attempted 1940, in an attempt to make the main ingredient more explicit, after the –burger had taken on a life of its own as a suffix (cf. cheeseburger, first attested 1938).

Check out the price in the illustration, by the way: 25 cents?!?

Buon appetito!

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By Marian Dougan

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