Stuffing or dressing?

My last post wished you all a happy Thanksgiving – I hope everyone has now digested their turkey and is ready to read more about languages!

I’m not straying too far from the holiday however, as a friend sent me a link to this post on the excellent Separated By a Common Language blog, which revels in the differences between British and American English.

The post explores the differences between the American English use of the word dressing versus general-English stuffing, with the author concluding:

Some people make a distinction between stuffing and dressing, with stuffing being what is stuffed into the bird (or whatever) and dressing being the same material, but cooked separately. I’ve been known to make that distinction myself, but I note that the most famous US for a non-stuffed version of this foodstuff is called Stove Top Stuffing. And there are plenty of (North American) people who stuff dressing into turkeys–I suspect that the stuffed-stuffing/non-stuffed-dressing distinction has come about because people found themselves with two words for the same thing and had the natural desire to find a distinction. As Alan Cruse once wrote, “natural languages abhor absolute synonyms just as nature abhors a vacuum”.

The comments on the post are pretty interesting, with plenty of different opinions on the subject. Which do you use?