[pi-kahn, -kan, pee-kan]
  1. a tall hickory tree, Carya illinoinensis, of the southern U.S. and Mexico, cultivated for its oval, smooth-shelled, edible nuts: the state tree of Texas.
  2. a nut of this tree.

Origin of pecan

1765–75, Americanism; < Mississippi Valley French pacane < Illinois pakani < Proto-Algonquian *paka·n- nut (derivative of *pake·- crack nuts) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for pecan


  1. a hickory tree, Carya pecan (or C. illinoensis), of the southern US, having deeply furrowed bark and edible nuts
  2. the smooth oval nut of this tree, which has a sweet oily kernel

Word Origin for pecan

C18: from Algonquian paccan; related to Ojibwa pagân nut with a hard shell, Cree pakan
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 pecan

1712, paccan "the pecan tree," or a related hickory, from French pacane, from an Algonquian word meaning "nut" (cf. Cree pakan "hard-shelled nut," Ojibwa bagaan, Abenaki pagann, Fox /paka:ni/).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper