Facebook Twitter


Where does the expression "baker's dozen" come from?

There are two possible explanations, neither of which is known to be true, say editors at Merriam Webster, Inc.The first theory is that wholesale buyers from a baker were at one time entitled to 13 loaves for every dozen, insuring a profit for the middleman. This explanation seems to date from the 19th century, however, and the phrase "baker's dozen" goes back to at least 1599, so there's good reason to doubt its accuracy.

The second explanation supposes that bakers were at one time fined heavily for shortchanging their customers in goods. (If the old proverbs are correct, baKers were no strangers to the pillory). To guard against severe punishments, bakers included an extra loaf of bread per every dozen. This was also called the "vantage loaf," because it gave the baker the "vantage" (that is the advantage) of not being punished, and the "in bread," because it was bread "thrown in" with the order. Both of these terms date from the 1600s.