tomato


tomato
tomato (n.) 1753, earlier tomate (c.1600), from Sp. tomate (mid-16c.) from Nahuatl tomatl "a tomato," lit. "the swelling fruit," from tomana "to swell." Spelling probably influenced by potato (1565).
A member of the nightshade family, which all contain poisonous alkaloids. Introduced in Europe from the New World, by 1550 they were regularly consumed in Italy but only grown as ornamental plants in England and not eaten there or in the U.S. at first. An encyclopedia of 1753 describes it as "a fruit eaten either stewed or raw by the Spaniards and Italians and by the Jew families of England." Introduced in U.S. as part of a program by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson (1789), but not commonly eaten until after c.1830.
Alternative name love apple and alleged aphrodisiac qualities have not been satisfactorily explained; perhaps from Italian name pomodoro, taken as from adorare "to adore," but probably actually from d'or "of gold" (in reference to color) or de Moro "of the Moors." Slang meaning "an attractive girl" is recorded from 1929, on notion of juicy plumpness.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

Synonyms:
(Lycopersicum esculentum or Solanum esculentum)


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tomato — To*ma to, n.; pl. {Tomatoes}. [Sp. or Pg. tomate, of American Indian origin; cf. Mexican tomail.] (Bot.) The fruit of a plant of the Nightshade family ({Lycopersicum esculentun}); also, the plant itself. The fruit, which is called also {love… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • tomato — has the plural form tomatoes …   Modern English usage

  • tomato — ► NOUN (pl. tomatoes) ▪ a glossy red or yellow edible fruit, eaten as a vegetable or in salads. ORIGIN Nahuatl …   English terms dictionary

  • tomato — [tə māt′ō, təmät′ō] n. pl. tomatoes [Sp tomate < Nahuatl tomaλ] 1. a red or yellowish fruit with a juicy pulp, used as a vegetable: botanically it is a berry 2. the annual plant (Lycopersicon esculentum) of the nightshade family, on which this …   English World dictionary

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  • tomato — /teuh may toh, mah /, n., pl. tomatoes. 1. any of several plants belonging to the genus Lycopersicon, of the nightshade family, native to Mexico and Central and South America, esp. the widely cultivated species L. lycopersicum, bearing a mildly… …   Universalium

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