What is the difference between a COMPOTE, COMPORT and a TAZZA?

Sterling Silver Tazza, c1923, John Round & Son Ltd, Sheffield, England

Sterling Silver Tazza, c1923, John Round & Son Ltd, Sheffield, England

While looking through several books on antiques and searching on the Internet, I found the words compote, comport, and tazza interchangeably used to describe footed bowls or plates. For instance, several Millers’ antique books use all three. Table 1 gives some statistics of their use on select websites when viewed on the 13th of June, 2013.

Table 1: Instances of Tazza, Compote and Comport to describe footed bowls or plates.

Organization Link Tazza Compote Comport
Ebay www.ebay.com




Millers Antique Guide www.millersantiquesguide.com




The Metropolitan Museum of Art www.metmuseum.org




The Museum of Fine Arts Boston www.mfa.org




The British Museum www.britishmuseum.org




The Smithsonian www.si.edu







Still very confusing, but things do not look so good for the use of COMPORT. Let’s look at Webster’s Dictionary definitions. (Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com)

Definition of COMPOTE
1: a dessert of fruit cooked in syrup
2: a bowl of glass, porcelain, or metal usually with a base and stem from which compotes, fruits, nuts, or sweets are served

Origin of COMPOTE
French, from Old French composte, from Latin composta, feminine of compostus, past participle
First Known Use: 1693

Definition of TAZZA
1: a shallow cup or vase on a pedestal

Origin of TAZZA
Italian, cup, tazza, from Arabic ṭassa, ṭass, ṭasht basin, from Persian tasht
First Known Use: 1824

Definition of COMPORT
intransitive verb: to be fitting : accord
transitive verb: behave; especially : to behave in a manner conformable to what is right, proper, or expected ‘comported himself well in the crisis’
— com•port•ment noun

Examples of COMPORT
‘an outfit that most definitely does not comport with the company’s guidelines for dress-down days’
‘the grieving relatives comported themselves with grace and dignity during that difficult time’

Origin of COMPORT
Middle French comporter to bear, conduct, from Latin comportare to bring together, from com- + portare to carry — more at fare
First Known Use: 1589

It seems that COMPORT is misused to describe a bowl or plate on a stand. The difference between COMPOTE and TAZZA is that a TAZZA can be purely ornamental or functional while a COMPOTE is strictly a serving dish for food. Also, a COMPOTE is more likely to have a cover or lid in order to protect its contents.

Now that my OCD has been fully indulged, browse our great selection of tazzas and compotes on our website: http://www.thesilverwareguy.com/3048-bowls.

Spoons and Forks,

The Silverware Guy

7 thoughts on “What is the difference between a COMPOTE, COMPORT and a TAZZA?

  1. Very much appreciate you totally indulging your OCD on this topic, since it was my OCD on the topic that drove me to search in the first place :::smile::: Thorough and concise, thank you!

    • Many thanks for your write up on Tazzas, Comports and Compotes. I purchased a trio of Tazza’s with 6 matching plates. They were advertised as ALL THREE at my local auction house. Talk about covering all bases! I will call this beautiful 19th century set my Tazza set as I think it sounds prettier. Thanks again for all of your stats.

  2. I’m not quite ready to dismiss the term ‘comport’…..ie, “to bear” “comportare – to bring together” from “com+portare to carry”…… can somewhat (un)easily be interpreted to bear fruit, berries, nuts, etc., or, to bring these together to carry – such as on a pedestal dish. I sometimes find terms transferred this way.

  3. A bigger dictionary would have given you comport. OED: “A dessert dish raised upon a stem or support.” Etymology from French compote. Found from 1771 (J. E. Nightingale).

  4. I use a fruit compote in place of a salad or fruit
    salad…so easy and no last minute hassle for
    dinner guests….clears the palate and looks
    so colorful.

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