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respelled early 19c. from bisket (16c.), ultimately (besquite, early 14c.) from Old French bescuit (12c.), literally "twice cooked;" altered under influence of cognate Old Italian biscotto, both from Medieval Latin biscoctum, from Latin (panis) bis coctus "(bread) twice-baked;" see bis- + cook (v.). U.S. sense of "soft bun" is recorded from 1818.
in the United States, a small quick bread usually made from flour, salt, butter or vegetable shortening, and with baking powder as a leavening agent. The dough is kneaded briefly and rolled out, and the biscuits are cut with a round cutter. The dough may also be dropped by spoonfuls for an irregular shape. Biscuits are usually eaten hot with butter and fruit preserves, sausage gravy, or ham. They are especially associated with the American South. The dough for beaten biscuits, also a Southern specialty, is literally beaten with a mallet or other utensil for about 30 minutes to produce a fine texture. A sweetened biscuit dough is used for strawberry shortcake, a dessert of biscuits split and covered with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.