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gherkin

[gur-kin]
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noun
  1. the small, immature fruit of a variety of cucumber, used in pickling.
  2. Also called bur gherkin, gooseberry gourd, West Indian gherkin. the small, spiny fruit of a tropical vine, Cucumis anguria, of the gourd family, used in pickling.
  3. the plant yielding this fruit.
  4. a small pickle, especially one made from this fruit.
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Origin of gherkin

1655–65; < Dutch gurken, plural of gurk (German Gurke) < Slavic; compare Polish ogórek, Czech okurkaPersian
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for gherkin

gherkin

noun
  1. the immature fruit of any of various cucumbers, used for pickling
    1. a tropical American cucurbitaceous climbing plant, Cucumis anguria
    2. the small edible fruit of this plant
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Word Origin

C17: from early modern Dutch agurkkijn, diminutive of gurk, from Slavonic, ultimately from Greek angourion

Gherkin

noun
  1. the Gherkin an informal name for Swiss Re Tower
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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 gherkin

n.

small cucumber used for pickling, 1660s, from early modern Dutch gurken, augurken (late 16c.) "small pickled cucumber," from East Frisian augurk "cucumber," probably from a Balto-Slavic source (cf. Polish ogórek "cucumber"), possibly ultimately from Medieval Greek angourion "a kind of cucumber," said to be from Persian angarah [Klein, etc.], but OED seems to regard this as unlikely. A Dutch source says the Greek is from a word for "immature" and that the vegetable originated in northern India and came to Eastern Europe via the Byzantine Empire.

The Dutch suffix is perhaps the diminutive -kin, though some regard it as a plural affix, with the Dutch word mistaken for a singular in English. The -h- was added 1800s to preserve the hard "g" pronunciation.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper