Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
From OED (minus all non-Samuel cittions):
I. 1. A cutting or slicing instrument; a knife. II. 2. A flat piece of wood, square or circular, on which meat was served and cut up; a plate or platter of wood, metal, or earthenware. arch. and Hist. 3. A slice of bread used instead of a plate or platter. Obs. 4. a. A trencher and that which it bears; a supply of food; cf. TABLE 6c. arch. b. In proverbial phrases, chiefly of obvious meaning. to lick the trencher, to toady; to play the parasite. trim as a trencher: see quot. 1542. 5. transf. A flat board, circular or otherwise. b. Applied to a butcher's
I have heard the phrase "a good trencherman" used to describe someone who eats heartily.
I have read accounts of a trencher being a 'thick and hearty slab of bread' used as a plate, and, following the meal, these were tossed into a basket for distribution to the poor.
Neat, tidy, eco-friendly, and charity all at the same time! (Plus the plates all match!)
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