To cook by dry heat in an oven.

The most interesting facts about the word bake do not involve what it developed from, but what it developed into. Near the beginning of the eleventh century, the word appeared in Old English as bacan, having developed from a Germanic and—before that—an Indo-European source that meant simply to bake. The Old English bacan almost immediately spawned the word baecere, the name of a person who bakes for a living, which soon evolved into baker. The term bakery did not appear until much later—the mid sixteenth century—and even then it did not refer to the place where a baker works, but rather to a baker’s work in general, just as carpentry refers not to a place but to an activity. In fact, the word bakery did not come to mean baker’s shop until the early nineteenth century, when it became common for people to buy baked goods from a shop instead of making them at home. The Old English bacan also evolved, in the mid fifteenth century, into the Middle English bache, meaning a quantity of bread produced at one baking; this word was respelt as batch in the sixteenth century, and came to be applied to everything from cookies, to fudge, to beer, to poems. Finally, the Old English bacan also developed into the word baecestre, meaning female baker; around the end of the fourteenth century, this word was respelt as baxter, which became established as a surname shortly after. By the sixteenth century, however, the word baxter had ceased to be identified with women, so a new female form, backstress, was formed in its place. This odd-looking word did not, however, outlive the sixteenth century.

To prepare food by utilizing a method of dry, indirect heating, which commonly takes place inside an enclosed space, usually an oven.