from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A thick mush made of boiled cornmeal.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In Italy: A porridge made of Indian meal (maize-meal), the principal food of the poorer people throughout large sections of the country.
  • noun A porridge made of chestnut-meal, much used in autumn.
  • noun In France, a porridge made of barley-meal, not common except in the south.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Italy Pudding made of Indian meal; also, porridge made of chestnut meal.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun any of various types and consistencies of a starchy accompaniment to a meal made from coarse maize-meal porridge, sometimes fried or grilled

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a thick mush made of cornmeal boiled in stock or water


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Italian, from Latin, crushed grain, barley meal.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License



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  • My mother buys a package of polenta every year, though I've never eaten it. She doesn't even make it; she just buys it out of duty to her mother, who loves it.

    I wonder if it is good...

    September 8, 2008

  • Sure, can be lovely. Northern Italians are sometimes referred to by southerners as polentone because they eat so much of it. I'm not sure if the term is derogatory.

    September 8, 2008

  • Oh, polenta can be wonderful. In its most basic form it's more or less just mush--delicious, but not much to it. Liven it up a little and it can be sublime.

    September 8, 2008

  • I always find myself preferring semolina.

    September 8, 2008

  • I hated when mom made this, growing up. Hated it. I used to put so much sauce and grated Romano cheese on it that you probably couldn't taste the polenta at all. Now I have to be in the mood for it, which comes 1 or 2 times a year, and I still dump loads of cheese on it, but it's good. :) And easy to make, and cheap, and filling...

    September 18, 2008

  • There are many varieties of polenta, very different from one another... and I love most of them! Polenta taragna, from Valtellina, is one of my favorites.

    September 18, 2008

  • Oh sure, there are many varieties where it's eaten frequently. We only had the one, growing up. :) (And now I count myself fortunate for that experience.)

    p.s. finally went to see what polenta taragna is. It looks really good. Thanks Pro!

    September 19, 2008

  • C_b, you hated it?? Does...not...compute....

    September 19, 2008

  • Usage/historical note can be found in comment on mawmenee.

    January 8, 2017