Beefeater

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

beefeater the popular name in England for Yeomen of the Guard, dates back to the 17th century. It was wrongly supposed during much of the 19th century to be derived from the French word buffetier, meaning someone who attends at the sideboard. Weekley (1958) exposes the fallacy, declares that the word simply means ‘eater of beef’, and continues: ‘In the 16th century the compound had two special meanings: (1) a burly Englishman, as compared with less favoured races, (2) a pampered menial. The Yeoman of the Guard was both.’