[ tuh-mey-toh, -mah- ]
/ təˈmeɪ toʊ, -ˈmɑ- /
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noun, plural to·ma·toes.
any of several plants belonging to the genus Lycopersicon, of the nightshade family, native to Mexico and Central and South America, especially the widely cultivated species L. lycopersicum, bearing a mildly acid, pulpy, usually red fruit eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable.
the fruit itself.
Older Slang: Sometimes Offensive. a girl or woman.


Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.


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Origin of tomato

1595–1605; 1915–20 for def. 3; earlier tomate<Spanish <Nahuatl tomatl
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a tomato?

A tomato is a pulpy fruit from the genus Lycopersicon, usually eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable.

Culturally, tomatoes are most often enjoyed as a vegetable, but they are botanically classified as a fruit because the tomato is a developed ovary of a seed plant. Scientifically, they are classified as a berry because the tomato develops from a single flower and does not contain a pit.

There are several species of tomato. Most are native to Central and South America, with many species being farmed in Mexico. The most common tomato purchased and eaten is the L. lycopersicum, also known as the garden tomato. As it grows, the color of its skin changes from green to dark red and is commonly used for food products like ketchup, tomato sauce, and soups.

Other types of tomatoes include cherry tomatoes or Lycopersicon esculentum, named for their small, red appearance similar to a cherry. Currant tomatoes, or Solanum pimpinellifolium, are known for their small size and sweet flavor, while beefsteak tomatoes, or Solanum lycopersicum, grow to be very large and have ridges similar to a pumpkin or gourd. Heirloom tomatoes, which are non-hybrids, come in a variety of sizes and colors

Example: Guinea pigs love cherry tomatoes because they are small and sweet.

Where does tomato come from?

The first records of the term tomato come from around the late 1500s. It comes from the Nahuatl term tomatl. Nahuatl is a language spoken by several Uto-Aztecan tribes, who cultivated the tomato.

The tomato is one of the most popular foods in the world. Although tomatoes are native to South America, China is actually the largest global producer of the fruit, growing over 60 million tonnes a year. It is also the world’s largest consumer of tomatoes. But per person Greece is the largest tomato consumer, with many Mediterranean dishes using raw, stewed, and sundried tomatoes.

In the United States and Canada, tomato can be used as an offensive term for an attractive woman. This term is no longer commonly used.

Did you know … ?

What are some words that share a root or word element with tomato

What are some words that often get used in discussing tomato?

What are some words tomato may be commonly confused with?

How is tomato used in real life?

Tomatoes are a popular vegetable in many areas of the world. It is a common ingredient in many homemade dishes, as well as in restaurants.



Try using tomato!

True or False?

While we use tomatoes as a vegetable, it is technically a fruit.

How to use tomato in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for tomato

/ (təˈmɑːtəʊ) /

noun plural -toes
a solanaceous plant, Lycopersicon (or Lycopersicum) esculentum, of South America, widely cultivated for its red fleshy many-seeded edible fruits
the fruit of this plant, which has slightly acid-tasting flesh and is eaten in salads, as a vegetable, etc
US and Canadian slang a girl or woman

Word Origin for tomato

C17 tomate, from Spanish, from Nahuatl tomatl
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