|1.||the immature fruit of any of various cucumbers, used for pickling|
|2.||a. a tropical American cucurbitaceous climbing plant, Cucumis anguria|
|b. the small edible fruit of this plant|
|[C17: from early modern Dutch agurkkijn, diminutive of gurk, from Slavonic, ultimately from Greek angourion]|
(Cucumis anguria), trailing vine, of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae), grown for its edible fruit. The gherkins sold in pickle mixtures are not C. anguria but rather are small pickled immature fruits of cultivars of the cucumber (C. sativus). A true gherkin has palmately lobed leaves with toothed edges, small flowers, and furrowed, prickly fruits about five centimetres (two inches) long that are borne on crooked stalks. Although its fruit is also pickled, the plant is frequently grown only as a curiosity.
Learn more about gherkin with a free trial on Britannica.com.