- noun a paste made from ground almonds, sugar and egg, used to cover a fruit cake before icing or to make individual little sweets
- A kneaded paste of ground almonds and sugar bound with sugar syrup (at the hard crack stage) or white of egg or whole egg, used for covering cakes or producing various sweetmeats.
- adjective belonging to the level of management immediately below the top executives
- a sweet, almond taste or aroma associated with white wines made from the Chenin Blanc grape variety and with young Champagne
Origin & History of “marzipan”
The word marzipan has long puzzled etymologists. An elaborate theory was formulated in the early 20th century that traced it back to Arabic mawthabān ‘king who sits still’. That was applied by the Saracens to a medieval Venetian coin with a figure of the seated Christ on it. A series of fairly implausible semantic changes led from ‘coin’ via ‘box’ to ‘confectionery’, while the form of the word supposedly evolved in Italian to marzapane. This turns out to be completely wide of the mark (not surprisingly), but the truth seems scarcely less remarkable. In Burma (now Myanmar) there is a port called Martaban, which was renowned in the middle Ages for the jars of preserves and fruits exported from there to Europe. The name of the place came to be associated with its products, and in Italian, as marzapane, it denoted a type of sweetmeat (-pane for -ban suggests that some people subconsciously connected the word with Italian pane ‘bread’). Marzapane and its relatives in other languages (such as early modern French marcepain) entered English in the 16th century, and from the confusion of forms the consensus spelling marchpane emerged. This remained the standard English word for ‘marzipan’ until the 19th century, when marzipan was borrowed from German; this was an alteration of Italian marzapane, based on the misconception that it came from Latin marci pānis ‘Mark’s bread’.