An eggplant is a very oddly named food. We mostly know it as a deep purple and oblong-shaped fruit with a mild taste that sometimes borders on bitter.
At a glance, it looks nothing like an egg. Generally, it’s dark in color and it’s not nearly round enough in shape.
It’s hard to see how it ever got its name. If you’ve ever wondered to yourself why an eggplant is called that, then you’re in the right place, because we’ll be examining that topic today.
Quick Answer: Why is an Eggplant Called That?
The word “eggplant” comes from the middle of the eighteenth century. European people came up with the term to describe eggplant, because it was common to grow a variety that did indeed look like goose eggs.
So yes, at one point in time, it was typical to cultivate eggplants that did actually resemble eggs.
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The Story of Eggplant’s Name
Let’s dive into the history behind eggplant’s name a little deeper.
You may not have been aware of it before, but there are actually many different types of eggplant. Not all of them are the long and dark purple plants that most people know and love.
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One of those many varieties is an eggplant that’s a delicate white color. Eggplants like that type are what inspired the name in the first place.
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The origins of the name can be traced all the way back to the middle of the 1700’s. To be more specific, the first use of the word can be attributed to approximately 1763.
At the time, the most popular type of eggplant being grown bore fruits that were reminiscent of a goose’s eggs. They were a little yellowy, on top of being the same approximate size and shape as their namesake.
These plants were used more for decorative purposes. Due to their relation to the nightshade family, many were afraid to try and eat eggplant.
Other Names for Eggplant
Eggplants have tons of names far beyond what we normally call them in the United States. Let’s take a look at some of their nicknames from around the world.
In European countries, eggplants are often referred to as aubergine. In Some Asian and African countries, eggplant may be called brinjal.
Guinea squash is another fairly common name for eggplant. This is most often used in South American countries.
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Over long years of use, eggplant has come to be known by a myriad of monikers. You might know it as eggplant, aubergine, guinea squash, or even as brinjal.
Regardless of what you call it, though, one thing is consistently true: it’s a delicious and flexible part of any kitchen.
Curious how certain fruits and vegetables got their names? Check out this related article: Why are Limes Called Lemons in Mexico?