- See under cranberry(def 1).
- the red, acid fruit or berry of certain plants of the genus Vaccinium, of the heath family, as V. macrocarpon (large cranberry or American cranberry) or V. oxycoccus (small cranberry or European cranberry), used in making sauce, relish, jelly, or juice.
- the plant itself, growing wild in bogs or cultivated in acid soils, especially in the northeastern U.S.
Origin of cranberry
- any of several trailing ericaceous shrubs of the genus Vaccinium, such as the European V. oxycoccus, that bear sour edible red berries
- the berry of this plant, used to make sauce or jelly
Word Origin and History for small cranberry
1640s, American English adaptation of Low German kraanbere, from kraan "crane" (see crane (n.)) + Middle Low German bere "berry" (see berry). Perhaps so called from a resemblance between the plants' stamens and the beaks of cranes.
German and Dutch settlers in the New World apparently recognized the similarity between the European berries (Vaccinium oxycoccos) and the larger North American variety (V. macrocarpum) and transferred the name. In England, they were marshwhort or fenberries, but the North American berries, and the name, were brought over late 17c. The native Algonquian name for the plant is represented by West Abenaki popokwa.