Word Origin & History
1530, from M.Fr. espinache (Fr. épinard), from O.Prov. espinarc, which perhaps is via Catalan espinac, from Andalusian Arabic isbinakh, from Arabic isbanakh, from Pers. aspanakh "spinach." But OED is not convinced the Middle Eastern words are native, and based on the plethora of Romanic forms
pronounces the origin "doubtful." Old folk etymology connected the word with L. spina (see spine
) or with M.L. Hispanicum olus. For pronunciation, see cabbage
. In 1930s Amer.Eng. colloq. it had a sense of "nonsense, rubbish," based on a famous "New Yorker" cartoon of Dec. 8, 1928.