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[plan-tin, -tn]
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  1. a tropical plant, Musa paradisiaca, of the banana family, resembling the banana.
  2. its fruit, eaten cooked as a staple food in tropical regions.

Origin of plantain1

1545–55; earlier pla(n)tan < Spanish plá(n)tano plantain, also plane tree < Medieval Latin pla(n)tanus, Latin platanus plane3


[plan-tin, -tn]
  1. any plant of the genus Plantago, especially P. major, a weed with large, spreading leaves close to the ground and long, slender spikes of small flowers.

Origin of plantain2

1350–1400; Middle English plauntein < Old French plantein < Latin plantāgin- (stem of plantāgō), derivative of planta sole of the foot, literally, something flat and spread out, like the broad leaf of the plantain; akin to Greek platýs flat1; see platy-
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for plantain

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • All his movements could be observed by the party at the house, as he was on that side of the plantain.

  • The soldiers said I was half-starved, and they gave me a plantain that they pulled by the road-side.

    The Hour and the Man

    Harriet Martineau

  • Then one of the soldiers bade me eat my plantain; and I thought I must do as I was bid.

    The Hour and the Man

    Harriet Martineau

  • One of the most important trees in the West Indies is the plantain tree.

    Will Weatherhelm

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • Thus Quonna is a buffalo, Abrootoo is a cornstalk, Abbradi a plantain.

British Dictionary definitions for plantain


  1. any of various N temperate plants of the genus Plantago, esp P. major (great plantain), which has a rosette of broad leaves and a slender spike of small greenish flowers: family PlantaginaceaeSee also ribwort

Word Origin

C14 plauntein, from Old French plantein, from Latin plantāgō, from planta sole of the foot


  1. a large tropical musaceous plant, Musa paradisiaca
  2. the green-skinned banana-like fruit of this plant, eaten as a staple food in many tropical regions

Word Origin

C16: from Spanish platano plantain, plane tree
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

Word Origin and History for plantain


"banana," 1550s, plantan, from Spanish plátano, plántano, probably from Carib palatana "banana" (Arawak pratane), and altered by association with Spanish plátano "plane tree," from Medieval Latin plantanus "plane tree," itself altered (by association with Latin planta "plant") from Latin platanus (see plane (n.4)). So called from the shape of its leaves. There is no similarity or relation between this plant and plantain (n.2).


"weed of the genus Plantago," mid-13c., from Anglo-French plaunteyne, Old French plantain, from Latin plantaginem (nominative plantago), the common weed, from planta "sole of the foot" (see plant (n.)); so called from its flat leaves.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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