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Gratin is a widespread culinary technique in food preparation in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter. Gratin originated in French cuisine and is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked or cooked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust on top and is traditionally served in its baking dish.
A gratin dish refers to the shallow oven-proof container traditionally used to prepare gratins and similar dishes. 

The etymology of gratin is from the French language in which the word gratter meaning "to scrape" or "to grate" as of the "scrapings" of bread or cheese, and gratiné, from the transitive verb form of the word for crust or skin. The technique predates the current name which did not appear in English until 1846 (OED, s.v. "gratin").
In addition to the well-known potato dishes such as Gratin Dauphinoise, cooking Au gratin is a widely used cooking technique in the preparation of numerous dishes including many meat, fish, vegetable and pasta dishes, fennel, leeks, crabmeat, celeriac and aubergines (eggplant).
The term le gratin signifies the "upper crust" of Parisian society, and, as gratin, has since been borrowed into English.