15 Delicious Old Words for Gluttons
Gluttony is one of the most enjoyable sins: just about everyone goes to town on some pizza, ice cream, bacon-wrapped dates, or other mountain of food sometimes. Binging is such a perfect word for hoovering up food that binge-watching became the word du jour for consuming TV without restraint. But over the centuries, there have been many words for chowhounds, like these old-timey terms, which you should feel free to use when you see—or are—a gorger.
Since the 1300s, a ravener has been, as the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) eloquently defines it, “a robber, a plunderer, a despoiler.” Since the 1400s, a ravener has also been a glutton, and the term isn’t totally out of use. In Erika Ritter’s 1997 novel The Hidden Life of Humans, a dog is described as a “Ravener of refuse, lecher of laundry bags, despotic disrupter of domestic routines.”
At first blush, lurching doesn’t seem to have much to do with gobbling and scarfing. But the gluttonous meaning emerged along with other sneaky, theft-related senses, and in the 1500s, this pilfering began to refer to food. I guess that’s why my grandpappy told me, “Never lunch with a lurcher.”
This awesome word has existed since the 1500s. Consider it the black sheep of the gourmand family: A gourmand can also be a glutton, but there’s something about gormandizer that makes the gluttony as undeniable as a stomach ache.
This term, found mainly in the 1500s and 1600s, occasionally meant an actual god of gluttony, such as Bacchus. More often, it refers to mere mortals, specifically, “One who makes a god of his belly,” as the OED puts it.
First found in Chaucer, this term has a few meanings other than a lazy, overindulgent eater. A draffsack can be a literal bag of garbage, or it can be an enormous, Falstaffian belly. You can also describe some as draffsacked, if they are routinely and repulsively stuffed with food.
This rare term, found only in the 1500s, deserves much wider use. In addition to describing gluttons, it's a fitting word for boozehounds.
Looking for the perfect work to describe a gluttonous child? Try gulchin. This is a variation of gulch, which can be someone who either eats or drinks too much. Gulch is also a verb. So you could say a gulch was out gulching when he should’ve been watching his gulchins.
This Latin-sounding term has had several deep meanings. The first was a pit—the kind criminals were tossed into in Athens. It’s been similarly used as a word for the abyss or hell. But the OED also defines a barathrum as “an insatiable extortioner or glutton.” So if you can’t stop snacking or blackmailing, this is the word for you.
Some words just sound like what they mean. Globber, a rare term from the 15th century, is the noun form of the also-rare verb globbe, which is related to glop and gulp.
Here’s another rare term related to globs, glops, and gulps. In any era, gloffers can be found at the nearest buffet.
This term can still be found today, often in the name of fancy restaurants. It comes from the god Epicurus, who was all about pleasure—so the word attached to people who take prodigious pleasure in plate-cleaning.
These days, it’s in fashion to take gender out of words, but there are a ton of older, absurd-sounding terms that wear their gender on their lexical sleeve—including this silly term for a female glutton. Other preposterous but real words include admiraless, advocatess, artistess, assassinatress, bankeress, butcheress, citizeness, companioness, doctress, farmeress, heatheness, malefactress, popess, pythoness, revengeress, studentess, and wolfess.
This term doesn’t sound too insulting. If given a choice, who wouldn’t pick bacon? But this was an extremely rare word for a glutton in the 1600s. A bacon-picker should not be confused with a bacon-slicer, who is a hick or yokel.
No, not a butler. This is the noun form of the 17th century word guttle, which means to fill your gut rapidly and completely. You could say a completive eater is a professional guttler.
Though the spelling is a bit unfamiliar, the tone of this Thomas Lever sermon from 1550 is hard to miss, as he brings down hellfire and brimstone on “Disceitful Merchauntes, couetous greedyguttes, & ambicious prollers, whiche canne neuer haue inough.” A 1614 use by schoolmaster Thomas Godwin provides a definition applicable to all the words in this list: “A glutton, or greedy-gut, which cannot abstaine from his food till grace be said.”