stir a pot

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Senior Member

I'd like to know what kind of action is described by "sitrring a pot / pan."
Does it necessarily mean moving an object, e.g. a spatula, among pieces of food in the pot / pan? If someone is moving a pan up and down without turning the food with an instrument, can we say he or she is "stirring a pan"?
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  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Technically, you don’t stir the pot, you stir the food that’s in it. And yes, the word stir does necessarily mean moving a spoon or other utensil round in the pot.

    Sparky Malarky

    English - US
    To "stir the pot" can also be an idiom, meaning to cause trouble.

    I agree with Lingobingo that, literally, we stir the food. We would usually say something like "don’t forget to stir the potatoes." But sometimes we'll say "can you give that pot a stir?" Or "throw the last ingredients in and stir the pot."

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    If someone is moving a pan up and down without turning the food with an instrument in the pan, can we say he or she is "stirring a pan"?
    I wouldn't call that 'stirring'. I don't know if there's a technical name for it but I would probably say, swirling/moving food around in a pan, or flipping/tossing food around in a pan if this is what you mean:

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    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    Normally "stirring" refers to a pot filled with liquid, like soup. You put a large spoon in that and move it around, so that the liquid stays mixed. Otherwise, the parts near the pot metal get very hot (or even burn) while the parts in the middle are much cooler. Some soups, stews or sauces (like spaghetti sauce) will be cooked for a long time (up to 3 hours), and need to be stirred every 10 minutes so that all the liquid and other things in the liquid (pieces of meat or vegetable) cooks the same.

    You can say you "stir" a pan filled with chicken or vegetables or other non-liquid food items, but this is taking a basic meaning and applying it to other situations. If you are frying pieces of chicken (or pieces of anything) in a pan, the pieces must be flipped over several times, to get cooked evenly. This can be done in several ways: flipping individual pieces using a fork or tongs, or doing one of the actions described in #4.

    But, like post #4, I wouldn't call it "stirring".
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