General English


  • noun the cured back and sides of a pig; bacon may be green or smoked


  • masculine The flesh of pork, divided in two halves along the backbone, then dried and preserved by treatment with salt, saltpetre and spices. These remove water from the meat and have some antibacterial action. Commercial curing methods leave more water in the flesh by including polyphosphates and do not give a bacon which keeps as well as the traditionally cured or dry-cured variety. Bacon may be smoked after curing to enhance the flavour. It is usually sold after boning.


  • noun a police officer or the police in general. One of several terms in underworld and student usage inspired by the 1960s epithet pig. It can occur in the form of ‘(the) bacon’ for the police in general or ‘a bacon’, denoting an individual officer.


  • noun salt meat from a pig, which is sliced into thin strips and cooked before serving

Origin & History of “bacon”

Originally, bacon meant literally ‘meat from a pig’s back’. It comes ultimately from a prehistoric Germanic *bakkon, which was related to *bakam, the source of English back. It reached English via Frankish báko and Old French bacon, and at first meant ‘a side of pig meat (fresh or cured)’. Gradually it narrowed down to ‘a side of cured pig meat’ (bringing it into competition with the Old English word flitch, now virtually obsolete), and finally to simply ‘cured pig meat’.