noun, plural zuc·chi·ni, zuc·chi·nis.
  1. a variety of summer squash that is shaped like a cucumber and that has a smooth, dark-green skin.
  2. the plant bearing this fruit.

Origin of zucchini

1925–30, Americanism; < Italian, plural of zucchino, equivalent to zucc(a) gourd (see zucchetto) + -ino diminutive suffix
Also called, especially British, courgette.

Usage note

This vegetable (actually an immature fruit), borrowed from Italy along with its name, has, in its native Italian language, both a feminine form ( zucchina, with the plural zucchine ) and a masculine form ( zucchino, with the plural zucchini ). It is the latter plural that has made it into English. And as with other Italian foods that enrich our vocabulary along with our diets, we have imported a plural form—only to treat it as a singular noun. Spaghetti, ravioli, tortellini, and fettuccini grace not only our dinner tables but our dictionaries, which show that English speakers normally treat these terms as mass (that is, uncountable) nouns rather than as plurals. We say, “This spaghetti is delicious” or “I'd like some fettuccini,” since we are not referring to individual pieces but to a cooked or cookable dish of pasta. Jokingly, we occasionally acknowledge Italian grammar, as by claiming to pick up one thin “spaghetto” or a puffy “raviolo.” Zucchini, however, is different. Because of the vegetable's size, it is a count noun when whole; you can bring home six zucchini or zucchinis from the supermarket. But when it is sliced, cooked, and served, you once again have a dish of food that is talked about as a mass noun. And in that form, some zucchini is absolutely delicious.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for zucchini

Contemporary Examples of zucchini

  • Spoon over the zucchini slices and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Perfect Valentine’s Day Feast

    Lydia Brownlow

    February 13, 2012

  • Then add the zucchini, peppers, eggplant, and chilies and cook, stirring for a further 10 minutes.

    The Daily Beast logo
    We Are Off to the Races!!

    Lydia Brownlow

    June 7, 2011

  • Garnish each bowl with the beef, shiitakes, zucchini, egg, and some crumbled Kim.

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    A Korean New Year's Day Menu

    Kelly Choi

    February 10, 2011

  • Some people also get fancy with their ingredients and make latkes out of sweet potatoes, zucchini or carrots.

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    Mouth-Watering Potato Pancakes

    Jacquelynn D. Powers

    December 1, 2010

Historical Examples of zucchini

British Dictionary definitions for zucchini


noun plural -ni or -nis
  1. a small variety of vegetable marrow, cooked and eaten as a vegetableAlso called (esp in Britain): courgette

Word Origin for zucchini

Italian, pl of zucchino, literally: a little gourd, from zucca gourd; see zucchetto
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 zucchini

1929, from Italian, plural of zucchino, diminutive of zucca "gourd, squash," perhaps from Late Latin cucutia, which is of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper