a thick soup or stew made of clams, fish, or vegetables, with potatoes, onions, and other ingredients and seasonings.

1735–45, Americanism; < French chaudière pot, kettle < Late Latin caldāria cauldron Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
chowder (ˈtʃaʊdə)
a thick soup or stew containing clams or fish
[C18: from French chaudière kettle, from Late Latin caldāria; see cauldron]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1751, apparently named for the pot it was cooked in: Fr. chaudière "a pot," from L.L. caldaria (see caldron). N.Amer. term, introduced in Newfoundland by Breton fishermen. Chowderhead (1819) is a corruption of cholter-head (16c.), from jolthead, of unknown origin.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


in North American cuisine, hearty soup usually containing fish or shellfish, especially clams. The word chowder is a corruption of the French chaudiere ("cauldron"), and chowder may have originated among Breton fishermen who brought the custom to Newfoundland, whence it spread to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and New England. The standard New England-style chowder contains fish or shellfish, salt pork, onions, potatoes, and milk. Manhattan-style chowder replaces the milk with tomatoes. Eighteenth-century chowders were more varied; meat or poultry chowders were made, and wine, spices, herbs, cider, and other flavourings were often added. Pounded common crackers or ship biscuits served as thickening. In the Southern and Midwestern United States, fresh sweet corn (maize) often replaces the clams in chowder. Conch chowder is a specialty of Key West, Fla.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Likewise, the haddock tart was at once runny and lumpy-thin chowder spilled
  over a pastry shell.
Dining in the region offers specialties such as lobster and clam chowder, as
  well as many other types of cuisine.
The swordfish stew and clam chowder are local favorites.
Fish and chips, seafood rolls and homemade chowder is also available.
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