General English

General Science

  • verb to remove silt and alluvial deposits from a river bed or other water course or channel



  • verb to sprinkle or cover food with a coating of icing sugar, flour or sugar

Origin & History of “dredge”

English has two distinct words dredge, neither with a particularly well-documented past. Dredge ‘clear mud, silt, etc from waterway’ (16th c.) may be related in some way to the 15th-century Scottish term dreg-boat, and similarities have been pointed out with middle Dutch dregghe ‘drag-net’, although if the two are connected, it is not clear who borrowed from whom. It has also been suggested that it is related ultimately to drag. Dredge ‘sprinkle with sugar, flour, etc’ (16th c.) is a verbal use based on a now obsolete noun dredge, earlier dradge, which meant ‘sweet’. this was borrowed from Old French dragie (its modern French descendant gave English dragée (19th c.)), which may be connected in some way to Latin tragēmata and Greek tragḗmata ‘spices, condiments’ (these Latin and Greek terms, incidentally, may play some part in the obscure history of English tracklements ‘condiments to accompany meat’ (20th c.), which the English food writer Dorothy Hartley claimed to have ‘invented’ on the basis of an earlier – but unrecorded – dialect word meaning more generally ‘appurtenances’).