General English


  • An open, cylindrical and straight-sided tart, either sweet or savoury, and either in a blind prebaked pastry case or with a sponge or biscuit crumb base with fillings that require little if any cooking
  • masculine crème caramel

Origin & History of “flan”

The word flan itself is a relatively recent addition to English, adopted on our behalf from French by the chef Alexis Soyer (a Frenchman working in England), but in that form it is in fact simply a reborrowing of a word which originally crossed the channel in the 13th century as flawn, denoting some sort of custard tart or cheesecake. Its Old French source was flaon, which came from medieval Latin fladō, but this was originally borrowed from Germanic *fladu- (source of German fladen ‘flat cake, cowpat’ and Dutch vlade ‘pancake’), which is probably related ultimately to Sanskrit prthūs ‘broad’, Greek platūs ‘broad’, and English flat.