What is the origin and meaning of the term "pot-house"?

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The term pot-house, or pothouse, is basically a synonym for a tavern, though some dictionaries may specify a “small” tavern. According to Merriam-Webster the first known use was in the year 1598, and its origin is likely from Middle and Old English, a combination of the words “pot” and “house,” the first deriving from Old English pott, similar to Middle Low German pot, with the same meaning. House of course derives from the Middle English hous, Old English hūs, related to Old High German hūs. We can assume that the compounding of these two words arose in the same manner as the words “alehouse, “tap-house,” and “barroom;” in Germanic languages compounding has historically been a common practice in designating nouns based on their literal function and characteristics.

A good example for the use of the word comes from George Eliot’s Middlemarch: “…and you may carry your stories into every pothouse in the town, but you shall have no sixpence from me to pay your expenses there."

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