broccoli

[ brok-uh-lee, brok-lee ]
/ ˈbrɒk ə li, ˈbrɒk li /

noun

a form of a cultivated cruciferous plant, Brassica oleracea botrytis, whose leafy stalks and clusters of usually green buds are eaten as a vegetable.

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Origin of broccoli

1690–1700; <Italian, plural of broccolo, equivalent to brocc(o) sprout (<Late Latin; see broach) + -olo diminutive suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

What else does broccoli mean?

Content warning: this article references illicit drugs.

When not referring to the actual vegetable, broccoli is slang for “marijuana.”

Where does broccoli come from?

The slang broccoli, meaning “marijuana,” is credited to the “Father of Slang” rapper E-40. On the music and lyrics website Genius, E-40 included a verified annotation on the page for his 1996 “Practice Lookin’ Hard.” According to him, he invented broccoli in 1993:

“I started calling medicinal [marijuana] ‘broccoli’ because it’s green and bushy. I was looking at some medical back in 1993 with my producer Studio Ton and we was like, ‘Man, look at it—it looks exactly like broccoli.’ I call it ‘lettuce’ too.”

E-40 also released a 1998 song simply titled “Broccoli” that made the word’s sub-meaning even more obvious. In the 2010s, other rappers helped popularize the slang, including Kodak Black, Lil Yachty, and D.R.A.M.

How is broccoli used in real life?

Broccoli (the slang and substance) is very popular in hip-hop. Several dozen songs use broccoli in their title and many, many more use it in the lyrics.

From hip-hop, broccoli has spread as a more mainstream slang term for “marijuana,” sometimes alongside the broccoli emoji, 🥦, on social media.

More examples of broccoli:

“On the page, marijuana is advertised as ‘broccoli’ and LSD as ‘light salad dressing’, while ‘capsicum’ is used to describe MDMA capsules and ‘coconuts’ is code for cocaine.”
—Max Margan & Daniel Piotrowski, Daily Mail, April 2018

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for broccoli

British Dictionary definitions for broccoli

broccoli
/ (ˈbrɒkəlɪ) /

noun

a cultivated variety of cabbage, Brassica oleracea italica, having branched greenish flower heads
the flower head of this plant, eaten as a vegetable before the buds have opened
a variety of this plant that does not form a head, whose stalks are eaten as a vegetable

Word Origin for broccoli

C17: from Italian, plural of broccolo a little sprout, from brocco sprout, spike; see brocade
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