• synonyms


  1. a small tree, Mespilus germanica, of the rose family, the fruit of which resembles a crab apple and is not edible until the early stages of decay.
  2. any of certain related trees.
  3. the fruit of any of these trees.
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Origin of medlar

1325–75; Middle English medler < Anglo-French, equivalent to medle (Old French mesle the fruit < Latin mespilum < Greek méspilon) + -er -er2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for medlar

Historical Examples

  • The latter is a sort of medlar, which all hands pronounced delicious.

    In the Wilds of Africa

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • But indeed, Mr. Medlar, you should not sacrifice your constitution to your benevolence.

  • In the ornaments of the doorway we see the ammonite and medlar.

  • The fruit may be eaten after it has begun to decay, as in the case of the Medlar.

  • There are bushes again and a magnolia, and a Japanese medlar, and there is moss.


    F. Marion Crawford

British Dictionary definitions for medlar


  1. a small Eurasian rosaceous tree, Mespilus germanica
  2. the fruit of this tree, which resembles the crab apple and is not edible until it has begun to decay
  3. any of several other rosaceous trees or their fruits
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Word Origin

C14: from Old French medlier, from Latin mespilum medlar fruit, from Greek mespilon
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 medlar


"small fruit-bearing tree," mid-14c. (in reference to the fruit itself), from Old French medler, variant of mesple, from Latin mespila "fruit of the medlar," from Greek mespilion, a foreign word of unknown origin. The Old English name was openærs, literally "open-arse."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper