The word coddle means to simmer or stew a food item gently in a liquid.
It’s only used today to refer to eggs, but in the past recipes would direct you to coddle fruit, and a sort of Irish stew consisting of potatoes and bacon became known as Dublin Coddle.
The liquid used, typically water, should be just below the boiling point, and not reach it.
Literature & Lore
“We’ll go, brother Toby, said my father, whilst dinner is coddling — to the abbey of Saint Germain, if it be only to see these bodies, of which Monsieur Sequier has given such a recommendation.” — Laurence Sterne (1713 – 1768), The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Chapter 8.
The first recorded use of the word “coddle” meaning “treat someone gently” was in the novel Emma, written by Jane Austen in 1815.
Coddle is related to the word “caudle”, meaning a simmered drink.
The Middle English word was “caudel.” This came to us via Old French, which came from Medieval Latin “caldellus”, from the Latin “caldum”, meaning warm or hot.