Which Word Wednesday: Dressing vs Stuffing

By November 26, 2014 language One Comment

Today’s Which Word Wednesday is a special Thanksgiving edition, taking on turkey’s carb-alicious sidekick. Some people call it dressing. Some people call it stuffing. Most people think the term they use is the right one. Let’s dig in to this food dilemma with the definitions from The Oxford American Dictionary:

dressing :: noun
a sauce for salads, typically one consisting of oil and vinegar mixed together with herbs or other flavorings: vinaigrette dressing; stuffing: turkey with apple dressing

stuffing :: noun
a mixture used to stuff poultry or meat before cooking

Seems fairly simple to me: If you stuff your carbs into your turkey, it’s called stuffing. If you bake your carbs on the side, it’s dressing. I tend to call my carb dish a dressing because we don’t stuff our turkey. For years, I’ve made a fabulous crock pot dressing using King’s Hawaiian Bread. But last year I shook it up and made this cornbread sausage pecan dressing. If I had time to make both versions, I would! Dressing screams Thanksgiving to me, even more so than the turkey. (For the curious, I’m going with the cornbread version again this year.)

But, of course, it’s not that simple, because we get into word ruts and habits based on what the people around us call the dish. According to Butterball, people call it whatever they want, no matter how it’s baked, based on regional usage:


Looks like here in Illinois, I’m surrounded by people who call it stuffing even if it’s baked on the side. (To which my inner word nerd lets out a loud, noooooooo!)

What’s my WWW verdict? Even if you call your stuffing dressing, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

What’s your verdict? Do you use the terms stuffing and dressing interchangeably? Do you stuff your turkey with carbs or bake it on the side? Does your word usage match the state in which you currently reside? Do share in the comments.


Check out previous Which Word Wednesday verdicts here.

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