Last modified on 20 September 2014, at 08:02


A bowl of soup
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(1645) Middle French soupe, from Old French souppe, sope, from Late Latin suppa (sopped bread), from Proto-Germanic *supô (compare Middle Dutch sope (broth). See also sop.



soup (countable and uncountable, plural soups)

  1. Any of various dishes commonly made by combining liquids, such as water or stock with other ingredients, such as meat and vegetables, that contribute flavor and texture.
    Pho is a traditional Vietnamese soup.
    1. (countable) A serving of such a dish, typically in a bowl.
    2. (uncountable) The liquid part of such a dish; the broth.
  2. (figuratively) Any mixture or substance suggestive of soup consistency.
    1. (slang) Thick fog or cloud (also pea soup).
    2. (US, slang) Nitroglycerin or gelignite, especially when used for safe-cracking.
    3. (cant) Dope (illicit drug, used for making horses run faster or to change their personality).
    4. (photography) Processing chemicals into which film is dipped, such as developer.
    5. (biology) Liquid or gelatinous substrate, especially the mixture of organic compounds that is believe to have played a role in the origin of life on Earth.
      primordial soup
    6. (UK, informal, often with "the") An unfortunate situation; trouble, problems (a fix, a mess); chaos.
      • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter I and X:
        B. Wickham had also the disposition and general outlook on life of a ticking bomb. In her society you always had the uneasy feeling that something was likely to go off at any moment with a pop. You never knew what she was going to do next or into what murky depths of soup she would carelessly plunge you. [...] “It may be fun for her,” I said with one of my bitter laughs, “but it isn't so diverting for the unfortunate toads beneath the harrow whom she plunges so ruthlessly in the soup.”
    7. (surfing) The foamy portion of a wave.

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soup (third-person singular simple present soups, present participle souping, simple past and past participle souped)

  1. (uncommon) To feed: to provide with soup or a meal.
    • 1904 October, East is East and West is West, in The Vassar Miscellany, volume 34, number 1, page 236:
      "I was so mad, I let him wait half an hour to-night before I souped him."
    • (Can we date this quote?), Diza Sauers, Historama, page 152:
      She cooked huge stock pots and souped her dogs once a day.
    • 2008, C Mark Chapoton, A Tale of Two Iditarods, page 34:
      I souped the dogs, and went in for a bite. I ended up going back out and making my pups a full meal, then went back in and pigged out myself.
  2. To be in trouble or in difficulty (often passive--cf. in the soup).
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulyssis, II:
      Luck I had the presenee [sic] of mind to dive into Manning's or I was souped.
  3. (photography) To develop (film) in a (chemical) developing solution.
    • 1970 December, in The Rotarian, volume 117, number 6, page 31:
      That girl Vivienne, by the way, once worked as a secretary in the workshop of The Rotarian, began "souping" her own snapshots at home, went from there to top rank as a New York color photographer specializing in small children []
    • 1991, Ruth Jean Dale, Society Page:
      "Then perhaps it won't surprise you to learn Annie's taking over the Sunday social column," Roz said. "You photo-guys'll be souping her film."
    • 1998, Edward Gorman, Cold Blue Midnight:
      And her camera position had been completely out of his sight. Satisfied that she'd gotten everything she'd needed - much more, in fact - she went back inside and got to work. Jill had souped her first photographs while she'd been on []
    • 2005, Jock Lauterer, Community Journalism: A Personal Approach, page 242:
      By 6 pm Beau and I are back at the paper, souping the film, when Woody rushes into the room.
  4. (obsolete) To sup or swallow.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Wyclif to this entry?)
  5. (obsolete) To breathe out.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Camden to this entry?)