TRENCHER (M. Eng. trenchour, trenchere, etc.,O. Fr. trencheoir trenchoier, a place on which to cut up food, from trencher, mod. trancher, to cut, probably from Lat. truncare, lop, cut off, or from trausecare, to cut across), a platter, being a flat piece of wood, in its earliest form square, later circular, on which food was carved or cut up and served. These wooden " trenchers " took the place of earlier ones which were thick slices of coarse bread; these, after being soaked with the gravy and juices from the meat and other food were eaten or thrown to the alms basket for the poor. The wooden trencher went out of use on the introduction of pottery and later of porcelain plates. At Winchester College, the old square beechwood trenchers are still in use. The potters of the 18th century made earthenware plates very flat and with a shallow rim ; these were known as " trencher plates." " Trencher salt-cellars " were the small salts placed near each person for use, as opposed to the ornamental " standing " salts.
For " trench," a ditch, and " entrenchment," see FORTIFICATION AND SIEGECRAFT.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)