The word pudding probably comes from the French boudin, originally from the Latin botellus, meaning "small sausage," referring to encased meats used in Medieval European puddings. In the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth countries, pudding is a common term for any dessert.
This type of pudding is still common in various places and is served as either a main-course dish or a dessert. In Australia, pudding is usually used to describe this type, though the term also may be used to refer to the second type (see below) as well. These are less common in North America.
Many puddings of this type resemble cakes, characteristically with more moisture and usually served in chunks rather than slices. Others are types of sausages. Dessert pudding is often accompanied by custard or ice cream.
Boiled pudding was a common main course aboard ships in the Royal Navy in the 18th and 19th centuries. Pudding was used as the primary dish in which daily rations of flour and suet were prepared.
This is the most familiar meaning of the term in North America and some European countries such as the Netherlands, whilst in Britain egg-thickened puddings are considered custards and starch-thickened puddings are blanc-mange. Pudding may be made from scratch or a mix or may be purchased ready to eat. The gelatin dessert company Jell-O is the primary producer of pudding mixes and prepared puddings in North America.