What's in a Word | All Blogs


Thank Greeks for luscious red fruit

By Debra Dobbins

The lovely red fruit we pluck off trees here in the early days of summer owes its name to an ancient Greek city on the Black Sea named Cerasus, writes Isaac Asimov in Words from History.

When Roman general Lucullus and his army camped at one time in the vicinity of Cerasus, the general discovered the red fruit, Asimov notes, and brought it back to Italy.

“The fruit came to be known to the Romans as ‘cerasia’ (‘fruit of Cerasus’). This became ‘cerise' in French, a word used in English to denote a particular shade of bright red,” Asimov continues. “In Norman French, the fruit was ‘cherise,’ and after the Normans established themselves in England, the name became first ‘chery’ and finally cherry.”

Photo special to the Sentinel
 

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