I can't understand the bold part of this sentence -

Potpourri was provided, made by Mrs. Jevons to her own recipe, to take away the smell.

What is the meaning of "to her own recipe"?

  • 1
    It means the potpourri was made according to her own recipe; she followed a recipe she created. To an American ear, it sounds a little archaic. What’s the source of the quote?
    – Karen
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 16:52
  • fall of giant by ken follett Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


In this context, it means that the potpourri was made by Mrs. Jevons using a recipe she'd created herself.

You could reword the sentence using the word follow, and it would retain the same meaning:

Potpourri was provided, made by Mrs. Jevons who followed her own recipe, to take away the smell.

From what I can tell, it's an unusual usage of the word "to", but it may have been chosen to help the sentence flow better, or to place emphases on the fact that it's her own recipe.

I believe the phrase "made to measure" uses the word "to" in a similar way.

  • Thanks, I also guessed the same meaning. But I was not familiar with the way it was written. I mean "to her own recipe". If you can shed some light on the usage or wordings, it would be a great help. Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 16:45
  • @Man_From_India Sorry if I didn't go into as much depth as you were expecting - I've added some clarification to my answer, is that any better? Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 16:53
  • @Man_From_India "to her own recipe" is a shortened version of "according to her own recipe." She made the potpourri by following her own instructions. Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 18:30
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    @BiscuitBaker "Made to order" is probably used even more frequently than "made to measure". Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 21:02
  • @JasonPatterson So that means here "to" means "according". Can you please provide me with a dictionary entry for "to" in support of this statement? Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 4:58

This is a slightly archaic form to my American ears. It means she made the potpourri from a recipe she created. The book it’s from is historical fiction about the early 20th century, and uses a writing style and phrasing more popular in that era. If I were writing that sentence today, I would write

made by Mrs Jevons according to her own recipe

made by Mrs Jevons from the recipe she created.

made by Mrs Jevons from her own recipe

The first two make it clearer that she created the recipe. That's the first interpretation I'd give the third, but it could also be easily interpreted that it was from a recipe she owned, whether or not she created it.

  • 1
    I would still use the original 'to her own recipe' UK Eng - the others sound forced. Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 19:59

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