[tuh-mey-toh, -mah-]

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.

Origin of tomato

1595–1605; 1915–20 for def 3; earlier tomate < Spanish < Nahuatl tomatl Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tomato

Contemporary Examples of tomato

Historical Examples of tomato

  • For to throw a tomato at the son of Lawyer Gamely was aiming very high.

    Pee-wee Harris

    Percy Keese Fitzhugh

  • If you try to get fresh with me I'll paint you blacker—blacker than a—than a tomato could—I will.

    Pee-wee Harris

    Percy Keese Fitzhugh

  • Add the vinegar and seasoning, dish in a circle, and pour the tomato over.

    The Skilful Cook

    Mary Harrison

  • Bob Strahan blushed until he was redder than any tomato that ever ripened.

    Mary Rose of Mifflin

    Frances R. Sterrett

  • A tomato whizzed past his ear and splattered against the wall.

    Meeting of the Board

    Alan Edward Nourse

British Dictionary definitions for tomato


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

Word Origin and History for tomato

1753, earlier tomate (c.1600), from Spanish tomate (mid-16c.) from Nahuatl tomatl "a tomato," literally "the swelling fruit," from tomana "to swell." Spelling probably influenced by potato (1565).

A member of the nightshade family, all of which contain poisonous alkaloids. Introduced in Europe from the New World, by 1550 they regularly were consumed in Italy but grown only as ornamental plants in England and not eaten there or in the U.S. at first. An encyclopedia of 1753 describes it as "a fruit eaten either stewed or raw by the Spaniards and Italians and by the Jew families of England." Introduced in U.S. as part of a program by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson (1789), but not commonly eaten until after c.1830.

Alternative name love apple and alleged aphrodisiac qualities have not been satisfactorily explained; perhaps from Italian name pomodoro, taken as from adorare "to adore," but probably actually from d'or "of gold" (in reference to color) or de Moro "of the Moors." Slang meaning "an attractive girl" is recorded from 1929, on notion of juicy plumpness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper