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The Delicious Origins of 18 Summer Fruit Names

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Summertime means vacations, swimming pools, barbecues, and bushels of seasonal fruits. But just as juicy as summer’s many berries, stone fruits, and melons are the far-flung, surprising, and often obscure origins of their names.

1. APRICOT

When the word first appeared in the 16th century, apricot looked like something only the Big Friendly Giant would eat: abrecock. English borrowed abrecock from the Portuguese or Spanish variant of the Arabic name for the fruit: al-barquq, “the apricot.”

But apricot’s journey goes back farther than that. Arabic adapted al-barquq from the Greek praikokion, which itself took the word from Latin’s praecox. Literally meaning “cooked before,” the ancient Romans thought the praecox was a variety of peach that ripened early. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), an earlier Latin name for the fruit was prunum or malum Armeniacum, the “Armenian apple,” from where it was historically cultivated.

French formed the fruit’s name into abricot, which influenced the modern English spelling of apricot. The Latin word apricus, meaning “sunny,” likely influenced the spelling too; the fruit was believed to ripen in such an environment.

2. PEACH

Some think the word peach is first attested in the English language all the way back in 1184 as the surname Pecche. This name is more likely from the French for “sin.” Despite fruit having a long religious association with sin, peach probably first appears in 1400, when pechis, and later peche, was used to mean the “peach tree.”

Via French, the English peche was grafted from the Latin persica, short for Persicum malum, or the “Persian apple.”

Peachy was U.S. slang for “great”—and of women, “attractive”—by 1900. This usage probably stems from the fruit’s alluring shape or color, at least in the eyes of some beholders.

3. NECTARINE

A nectarine is a peach that lost its fuzz. Documented in various forms in the early 17th century, the name nectarine derives from a literary adjective, nectarine, “sweet as nectar.” Via Latin, nectar derives from the Greek nektar, the drink of the Olympian gods. Some think nectar is a Greek compound of nek- (“death”) and tar- (“overcoming”), alluding to the drink’s mythical power to bestow immortality. So, you better stock up on nectarines this summer.

4. PLUM

A prune is a dried plum, but the word plum might just be dried prune. It’s a very old word in the language, found as plum in Old English. Scholars can trace it back to Middle Dutch and Middle Low German prume as well as the Old High German pfruma.

The ultimate origins of these Germanic plums are disputed. Some think early Germanic speakers borrowed the Latin prunum, a “plum,” possibly of a Near East origin. Prunum also gives English prune.

Whatever their roots, plum and prune originally referred to the same thing: the plum. They diverged in the 1400s, thanks to the phrase dried prunes. They diverged again, thanks to metaphor. Prune became slang for a “disagreeable person,” later an “old person.” Plum, meanwhile, became slang for something “desirable,” hence a plum job. Earlier, plum was a British colloquialism for 100,000 pounds, a nod to sweet sugar plums.

5. CHERRY

What do cherries and peas have in common? Yes, they’re both small and round, but they are also both mistakes. Middle English mistook cherise, which came from France, as a plural word. It’s not, but speakers made cheri, later cherry, the word’s singular form anyway. English also did this to pea: The original, singular word was pease.

The French cherise replaced the Old English ciris. Unlike peach, cherry does appear in an old surname: Chyrimuth, “cherry mouth.” (Cherries have long been associated with lips.) Both cherise and ciris are ultimately picked from the Latin cerasum, “cherry tree,” and the Greek kerasos before it. Kerasos might refer to a town in an ancient region of the Black Sea area of Turkey called Pontus; Romans believed one of their statesman, Lucullus, brought cherries back from there—but it’s possible that the town itself was named after cherries.

6. STRAWBERRY

Technically, the strawberry isn’t a berry. So, does the fruit’s straw- actually have anything to do with straw? Etymologists simply don’t know. It’s an unusual word, as the Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology explains: “No corresponding compound is found in other Germanic languages and the reason for the name is uncertain.” Some suggest its "seeds" (called achenes, they’re the actual fruit of the strawberry) look like scattered straw, others that its slender stems (“runners”) resemble straw stalks.

7. RASPBERRY

Like the strawberry, the raspberry isn’t a true berry in the biological sense of the word. And also like the word strawberry, we don’t know what its rasp- is about.

The word raspberry is found relatively late in English, attested in the early 1600s. An earlier form, raspis-berry, might give clues to its origins. In Middle English, raspise was a sweet, pink wine, possibly from the Anglo-Latin vinum raspeys. But this raspeys remains unexplained. Suggestions include the French rasper, “to scrape,” referring to the fruit’s rough appearance, and an Old Walloon word for “thicket.”

The other sense of raspberry, the noise we make, say, when we blow on someone’s stomach, is short for raspberry tart, rhyming slang for “fart.”

8., 9., 10., 11., 12., AND 13. GOOSEBERRIES, ELDERBERRIES, MULBERRIES, LOGANBERRIES, BOYSENBERRIES, AND BLACKBERRIES

Gooseberries might have nothing to do with geese and elderberries have no relation to older people: If the goose- is to do with the animal, no one has yet found a reason for this to be the case; while the elder- definitely has to do with the elder plant, but the name origin of that is tangled in the etymological bush. Mulberries are actually mulling over morons, well, the Greek moron, its name for the mulberry. This moron also appears in the second element of sycamore.

But other berry-like fruits do have clear origins: loganberries and boysenberries are named for the scientists who developed them. And blackberries? Finally, summer fruit lobs us an easy one: It’s because they are black.

14. MELON

Like blackberry, watermelon is another summer fruit whose name is straightforward, thanks to its light juice. But melon seems anything but a melon: Etymologically, it’s basically “apple pumpkin.”

Passing into English from French and Latin, melon ultimately comes from the Greek melopepon, joining melon (“apple”) and pepon (“gourd”). Pepon is a form of the Greek verb “to cook”; as we saw with apricot, the notion is that melon was cooked, or ripened, by the sun. Pepon is also the source of the first part of pumpkin. The -kin is a diminutive suffix also seen in napkin, which we definitely need when we eat melons.

15. HONEYDEW

Due to its sweet, ivory-green juice, this melon is likened to honeydew: a sugary, sticky liquid secreted by insects, often on plants. According to the folk etymology, people once believed this honey-like substance materialized from the air like dew. Honeydew melon is late to the English record; the OED first cites it in 1916.

16. CANTALOUPE

This melon also owes its origins to the Middle East. Legend says it was brought from Armenia to Cantalupo, a former papal estate outside of Rome where the fruit was grown. Legend has it that wolves once gathered and howled around this area, hence Cantalupo, the “singing wolf,” joining Latin words for “sing” (cantare) and “wolf” (lupus). But while most etymologists agree that it’s probably named after a place called Cantalupo, it’s very possible that the papal connection is a myth. No matter what, the English language didn’t start howling over its orange flesh until the mid 1700s.

17. AND 18. LEMON AND LIME

Finally, these seasonal citrus fruits go well together in poolside drinks, but their names originate in places we don’t always associate with water. They both were squeezed into English from French, then Spanish, then Arabic, and finally from the Persian limun, a collective word for “citrus.” Lemon, appearing around 1400, predates lime in the English record by over 200 years.

A lemon is also a substandard car, usually passed off as in good condition. Describing something “bad” or “flawed” as a lemon dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. This usage might originate in American criminal slang of the early 1900s: The smarter con man could suck the juice out right out of a lemon, a “sucker” or “loser.” More likely, the slang is because the lemon leaves a sour taste—unlike so many of the delicious fruits in this article and their scrumptious etymologies.

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6 Signs You're Getting Hangry
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Hangry (adjective): Bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger. This portmanteau (of hungry and angry) is not only officially recognized as a word by the Oxford English Dictionary, but it's also recognized by health experts as a real physiological state with mood-altering consequences.

That hangry feeling results from your body's glucose level dropping, putting you into a state of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Glucose is the body's primary source of energy, so when you don't have enough, it affects your brain and other bodily functions, including the production of the hormones insulin and glucagon, which help regulate blood sugar. Check out the symptoms below to see if you've crossed over into the hanger danger zone.

1. IT TAKES EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER JUST TO KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN.

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Glucose equals energy, so when your blood sugar levels are low, you may start wishing you were back in bed with the shades drawn. If you start feeling sluggish or tired even though you’re well-rested, you might just need to eat something.

2. THE EASIEST ITEM ON YOUR TO-DO LIST SEEMS LIKE AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK …

It’s hard to concentrate when all you can think about is whether you're going to order the fish or beef tacos for lunch. The distraction goes beyond fantasies about food, though. The brain derives most of its energy from glucose, so when it's low on fuel, a serious case of brain fog can set in. Confusion and difficulty speaking are among the more serious symptoms you may experience when you're hangry.

3. … AND YOU HAVE A BAD CASE OF WORD VOMIT.

Blame this on brain fog too. The gray matter in your noggin goes a little haywire when blood sugar is in short supply. That's why you may start stuttering or slurring your words. You might also have difficulty finding your words at all—it can feel like your mouth and brain are disconnected.

4. YOU’RE SHAKING LIKE A LEAF AND FEEL LIGHTHEADED.

Tremors and dizziness are both signs that you should pay closer attention to your body, which is screaming, "Feed me!" Once again, low blood sugar is often the culprit of trembling hands and feeling faint, and exhaustion and stress make the symptoms worse.

5. YOUR COWORKERS SEEM ESPECIALLY ANNOYING.

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You’re tense and irritable, and it’s starting to show. Hunger causes your body to release cortisol and adrenaline, the same hormones responsible for stress. This can put you on edge and lower your tolerance for other people’s quirks and irksome habits, which suddenly seem a lot less bearable.

6. YOU SNAPPED AT YOUR FRIEND OR PARTNER FOR NO GOOD REASON.

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Not only are you irritable, but you’re more likely to lash out at others because of it. The doses of adrenaline and cortisol in your body can induce a fight-or-flight response and make you go on the attack over matters that—if you had some food in you—would seem unimportant.

So what should you do if these descriptions sound all too familiar? Eat a snack, pronto—one with complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. The first one brings up your blood sugar level, and the other two slow down how fast the carbohydrates are absorbed, helping you to avoid a sugar crash and maintain a normal blood sugar level. Eating small meals every few hours also helps to keep hanger at bay.

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Alexa Can Now Help You Find a Wine Pairing
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Even if you enjoy wine regularly, you may not know exactly how you’re supposed to pair it with food. But you don’t have to be a sommelier to put together a good pairing at home. According to Lifehacker, you can just ask Alexa.

An Alexa skill called Wine Finder is designed to help you figure out which wine varietal would go best with whatever food you’re planning to eat. You just have to ask, “What wine goes well with … ”

Created by an app developer called Bloop Entertainment, the Amazon Echo skill features a database with 500 wine pairings. And not all of them are designed for someone working their way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The skill will also help you find the proper pairing for your more casual snacks. In one demo, the skill recommends pairing nachos with a Sauvignon blanc or Zinfandel. (Note that the latter also goes well with Frito pie.)

You can also ask it to find you the perfect wine to drink with apple pie and pizza, in addition to the meats, cheeses, and other wine-pairing staples you might expect. However, if you ask it what to pair with hot dogs, it says “water,” which is an affront to hot dog connoisseurs everywhere.

There are a few other wine-pairing skills available for Alexa, including Wine Pairings, Wine Pairings (two different skills), and Wine Expert. But according to user reviews, Wine Finder is the standout, offering more and higher-quality suggestions than some of the other sommelier apps.

It’s free to enable here, so drink up.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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