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Word of the Day
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Definitions for hesperidium

  1. Botany. the fruit of a citrus plant, as an orange.

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Citations for hesperidium
As I was carefully filing the new postal arrivals alphabetically in the paper shredder, I noticed, amongst the profusion of catalogues that hawked everything from bird feeders to monthly deliveries of sundry drupe and hesperidium, there was an unsolicited little journal ... Woody Allen, "To Err is Human--To Float, Divine," Mere Anarchy, 2007
Nay, when we actually mean the fruit in person, not the tree, flower, or color, the picture called up will be different according to the nature of the phrase in which the word occurs. ... if I am talking to a botanical friend, my impression is rather that of a cross-section through a succulent fruit (known technically as a hesperidium), and displaying a certain familiar arrangement of cells, dissepiments, placentas, and seeds. Grant Allen, "A Thinking Machine," The Popular Science Monthly, March 1886
Origin of hesperidium
Hesperidium ultimately derives from the Greek noun Hesperídes (the plural of the adjective hesperís “western”), the daughters of Night or Evening who guarded the golden apples that Gaea, the goddess of the earth, gave to Hera at Hera’s marriage. It is uncertain whether the “golden apples” were apples or a kind of citrus fruit, especially the orange. The golden apples grew in a garden at the western edge of the world (the same location as the Elysian Fields). The Greek noun and adjective hésperos (dialect wésperos) “evening, evening star, Venus (the planet), (the god) of evening (i.e., death)” is closely related to Latin vesper “evening, the west.” The Swedish botanist Linnaeus (1707-78), alluding to the golden apples of the Hesperides, gave the taxonomic name Hesperideæ to the botanical order that contains the genus Citrus. Modern botany and chemistry use the combining form hesperid- “derived from citrus fruit.” The suffix -ium is used in scientific terms modeled on Latin. Hesperidium entered English in the 19th century.
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