Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[gur-kin] /ˈgɜr kɪn/
the small, immature fruit of a variety of cucumber, used in pickling.
Also called bur gherkin, gooseberry gourd, West Indian gherkin. the small, spiny fruit of a tropical vine, Cucumis anguria, of the gourd family, used in pickling.
the plant yielding this fruit.
a small pickle, especially one made from this fruit.
1655-65; < Dutch gurken, plural of gurk (German Gurke) < Slavic; compare Polish ogórek, Czech okurkaPersian Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
British Dictionary definitions for gooseberry-gourd


the immature fruit of any of various cucumbers, used for pickling
  1. a tropical American cucurbitaceous climbing plant, Cucumis anguria
  2. the small edible fruit of this plant
Word Origin
C17: from early modern Dutch agurkkijn, diminutive of gurk, from Slavonic, ultimately from Greek angourion


the Gherkin, an informal name for Swiss Re Tower
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for gooseberry-gourd



small cucumber used for pickling, 1660s, from early modern Dutch gurken, augurken (late 16c.) "small pickled cucumber," from East Frisian augurk "cucumber," probably from a Balto-Slavic source (cf. Polish ogórek "cucumber"), possibly ultimately from Medieval Greek angourion "a kind of cucumber," said to be from Persian angarah [Klein, etc.], but OED seems to regard this as unlikely. A Dutch source says the Greek is from a word for "immature" and that the vegetable originated in northern India and came to Eastern Europe via the Byzantine Empire.

The Dutch suffix is perhaps the diminutive -kin, though some regard it as a plural affix, with the Dutch word mistaken for a singular in English. The -h- was added 1800s to preserve the hard "g" pronunciation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for gooseberry-gourd


(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
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for gherkin

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for gooseberry

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with gooseberry-gourd

Nearby words for gooseberry-gourd