Thursday, August 10, 2017

Language of Confusion: Feeling Fruity, Part IV

And I think it’s the last part? For now? Maybe? Unless I think up some more fruit to etymologize and do a surprise sequel down the road.

Melon showed up in the late fourteenth century from the Old French melon, so no big changes there. Before there it was the Medieval Latin melonem, and classical Latin melopeponem, which is…a kind of pumpkin. Wait, there are kinds of pumpkins? Well, Latin stole it from the Greek melopepon, gourd melon. Oh, and the melon is from the pepon part of the word. Melon was actually a word for apple, when it wasn’t being used as a generic word for fruit. Just like apple!

Just water + melon, named in the early seventeenth century. Because it’s full of watery juice. In French, it’s melon d’eau. Water melon. No one’s even trying to be original.

Honeydew showed up in the late sixteenth century. But not as a melon. That wasn’t until 1916, for some reason. Before that it was just something sticky and sweet on plants. Weird that they named the melon after it, though. I never thought of honeydews as particularly sweet or sticky.

Cantaloupe showed up in 1739 from French, which took it from the Italian cantalupo, named for the place where the melons were first grown in Europe. Damn, melons have boring name origins.

Pumpkin showed up in the mid seventeenth century as an alternation from pompone/pumpion. It comes from the Middle French pompon and classical Latin peponem, which…looks awfully familiar. Yes, it’s from pepon, too. Sooooo pumpkin means melon. Where the hell did the K come from?



  1. Wonder why they started calling it a honeydew?
    Not a fan of watermelon. Too many seeds.

  2. There are a lot of kinds of pumpkins. You have to be careful what you choose if you want to grow them for anything more than decorating.

  3. The K might have been tossed into pumpkin by some itinerant traveling salesman in the 18th century.

  4. I heard someplace (on an episode of Good Eats) that we don't get actual cantalopes in the US. Only in Europe. What we call a cantalope is actually a musk melon. But I still think of them as cantalopes.


Please validate me.