Difference Between Ketchup and Catsup

Ketchup vs Catsup

When it comes to condiments that make a dull food item interesting and tasty there is none to beat tomato ketchup if one has to go by popularity and spread around the world. Whether one is eating burgers or sandwiches, ketchup makes these snacks palatable and delicious. In some southern states of US, there is another condiment by the name of catsup that looks and tastes just as good. Is there any difference between ketchup and catsup or is it the case of two alternative spellings for the same condiment? Let us find out.


Ketchup refers to a tomato based condiment that has a tangy taste and syrupy in nature. Ketchup is a condiment that can be eaten with a variety of food items though it is preferred more with hot food items such as fried and grilled meats. Ketchup is mostly sugary in taste and can have a wide variety of other ingredients such as onions, cloves, chilies, garlic, cinnamon, and so on. Interestingly, the earliest of ketchups that were made in oriental cultures were not tomato based but were concoctions that wee salty in nature. It was not until the early 18th century that British explorers got a taste of the table sauce used in Malay that was called kechap. The English sailors liked the sauce too much and brought it back to England which became ketchup in English. However, it took another hundred years before tomato started to be used to make the base of such condiments.


The word catsup is another derivative from the Malay word kechap that was used for pickled fish in brine and tasted by British explorers when they arrived in Singapore. In fact, many companies use the word catsup to refer to the tomato based condiment containing vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic and some other ingredients in a syrupy base. The word catsup is used in some parts of US and other Latin countries whereas ketchup is a word that is more common and popularly used in all parts of the world.

What is the difference between Ketchup and Catsup?

• There is no difference as such between ketchup and catsup and they seem to be two alternative spellings for the same food item called tomato sauce.

• Interestingly, ketchup and catsup have sprung from the same Malay word kechap that the inhabitants of Malay used for a condiment that was salty and contained fish in brine.

• While ketchup is common throughout the world, catsup is used in a few Latin countries, in addition to some southern states in US.

• There was no tomato in the early versions of ketchup and catsup, and it was only a century later that the ripe tomato juice started to form the base of these condiments.

• Today, ketchup is the standard spelling of the tomato sauces being sold throughout the world though catsup is still used by some companies in southern US.