Tracing the origin of this word, one visualises spice cupboards, kitchens, chefs notebooks, even TV dinners. More surprisingly perhaps, we're also transported to medicine cabinets and apothecary's shops. The word derives from the Latin verb recipre, meaning to receive. As this OED entry tells us, recipe appears to have entered the English language in the 1400s. At this time it was common for physicians to place the word recipe (the 2nd person singular imperative of the verb recipere) at the top of prescriptions, before listing the ingredients that the patient should 'receive' for his or her medical remedy. Amazingly, the first citation for the word in relation to cookery is as late as 1716. Before the 1700s, the everyday word for a culinary recipe was receipt. This word also derives from the Latin recipere.
The meanings of recipe appear to have been relatively stable for a hundred years, but note that the 2002 draft addition mentions a new and quite specific development relating to ready-prepared meals of the type sold in supermarkets (a recipe dish).
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