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Rutabaga is the American English name for the vegetable known to Britons as the swede. It was borrowed into English at the end of the eighteenth century from Swedish dialect rotabagga (which means literally ‘baggy root’), and at first was used on both sides of the Atlantic (Shelley mentioned it in his Oedipus Tyrannus (1820): ‘Hog-wash or grains, or ruta-baga, none has yet been ours since your reign begun’—a reference to the pigs' food shortage under the rule of Oedipus). By the twentieth century, however, its range had become restricted largely to North America.

Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.

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