Did you know that there really is a language of bread? Even when it comes to something as simple as a bread roll there are many different regional variations around the UK.

Our new research shows that across the UK there are numerous words that are regularly used to describe the humble bread roll – many of which go back hundreds of years. For example the term ‘bap’ was first recorded in 1600; ‘roll’ in 1581 and ‘cob’ in 1869.

To help consumers and as part of the celebrations for Craft Bakers’ Week, below is a guide to the most popular alternative names for a bread roll around the UK and a few of the less well known too!

Craft Bakers' Week Language of Bread - Infographic

The word ‘bread’ was first recorded around 950 and the word ‘cake’ circa 1230. But whilst today we generally think of bread as a savoury food and cake as a sweet one, originally they were both used to describe what we would consider to be bread.  Jonathan Robinson, a Curator at the British Library specialising in accents and dialects explains more: “Bread was historically a generic term for any baked item and ‘cake’ and ‘loaf’ originally referred to the shape of that ‘bread’ – with ‘cake’ usually being smaller and ‘loaf’ meaning ‘large bread’. There are numerous words for ‘bread roll’ in use around the country and this explains why some include the word ‘cake’. It’s great to see so many of these historic and regional terms still in use and I hope bakers around the country continue to help preserve these local distinctions.”

Read more about the different kinds of bread and cakes available around the UK.