Word Origin & History
c.1400, "living and growing as a plant," from O.Fr. vegetable "living, fit to live," from M.L. vegetabilis "growing, flourishing," from L.L. vegetabilis "animating, enlivening," from L. vegetare "to enliven," from vegetus "vigorous, active," from vegere "to be alive, active, to quicken," from PIE *weg-
"be strong, lively," related to watch (v.), vigor, velocity, and possibly witch (see vigil
). The meaning "resembling that of a vegetable, dull, uneventful" is attested from 1854 (see vegetable
1582, originally any plant, from vegetable
(adj.); specific sense of "plant cultivated for food, edible herb or root" is first recorded 1767. Slang shortening veggie first recorded 1955. The O.E. word was wyrte. Meaning "person who leads a monotonous life" is recorded
from 1921. The commonest source of words for vegetables in IE languages are derivatives of words for "green" or "growing" (cf. It., Sp. verdura, Ir. glasraidh, Dan. grøntsager). For a different association, cf. Gk. lakhana, related to lakhaino "to dig.