1. any of various gourds, especially the bottle gourd, Lagenaria siceraria.
  2. a tropical American tree, Crescentia cujete, of the bignonia family, bearing large, gourdlike fruit.
  3. any of several other plants having gourdlike fruit.
  4. the fruit of any of these plants.
  5. the dried, hollowed-out shell of any of these fruits, used as a container or utensil.
  6. a bottle, kettle, ladle, etc., made from such a shell.
  7. a tobacco pipe with a large bowl made from a calabash and usually having a curved stem.
  8. a gourd used as a rattle, drum, etc.

Origin of calabash

1590–1600; < Middle French calabasse < Spanish calabaza < Catalan carabaça, perhaps < Arabic qarʿah yābisah gourd (that is) dry Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for calabash

Contemporary Examples of calabash

  • The woman who was the spokesperson held out a calabash, a hollowed out gourd traditionally used to hold the cutters' instruments.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How the Gambia is Fighting FGC

    Julia Lalla-Maharajh

    February 5, 2011

  • The timing of Calabash, as everyone here seems to acknowledge, throws that debate into sharp relief.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Jamaica's Big Book Party

    Olivia Cole

    June 3, 2010

  • It's in this spirit that Calabash surely puts the festival back into the term literary festival.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Jamaica's Big Book Party

    Olivia Cole

    June 3, 2010

Historical Examples of calabash

British Dictionary definitions for calabash


  1. Also called: calabash tree a tropical American evergreen tree, Crescentia cujete, that produces large round gourds: family Bignoniaceae
  2. another name for the bottle gourd
  3. the gourd of either of these plants
  4. the dried hollow shell of a gourd used as the bowl of a tobacco pipe, a bottle, rattle, etc
  5. calabash nutmeg a tropical African shrub, Monodora myristica, whose oily aromatic seeds can be used as nutmegs: family Annonaceae

Word Origin for calabash

C17: from obsolete French calabasse, from Spanish calabaza, perhaps from Arabic qar`ah yābisah dry gourd, from qar`ah gourd + yābisah dry
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 calabash

1590s, "dried, hollowed gourd used as a drinking cup," from Spanish calabaza, possibly from Arabic qar'a yabisa "dry gourd," from Persian kharabuz, used of various large melons; or from a pre-Roman Iberian *calapaccia.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper