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This now distinctly passé slang term for the potato seems to have originated around the beginning of the nineteenth century (it is first recorded in the Lexicon Balatronicum, A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Elegance, 1811). It is perhaps most familiar to recent generations through the ‘stunning murphies’ baked by Sally Harrowell in Thomas Hughes's Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857). It is, of course, a would-be jocular reference to the predominance of the potato in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Irish diet, Murphy being a common Irish surname.

Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.

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