pulpy drupe of a well-known type of tree, c. 1300, earlier in surname Chyrimuth (1266, literally "Cherry-mouth"); from Anglo-French cherise, from Old North French cherise (Old French, Modern French cerise, 12c.), from Vulgar Latin *ceresia, from late Greek kerasian "cherry," from Greek kerasos "cherry tree," possibly from a language of Asia Minor. Mistaken in Middle English for a plural and stripped of its -s (compare pea).
Old English had ciris "cherry" from a West Germanic borrowing of the Vulgar Latin word (cognate with German Kirsch), but it died out after the Norman invasion and was replaced by the French word. Short for cherry-tree from 1620s. As an adjective, "of the color of a cherry," mid-15c.
Meaning "maidenhead, virginity" is by 1928, U.S. slang, from supposed resemblance to the hymen, but perhaps also from the long-time use of cherries as a symbol of the fleeting quality of life's pleasures (and compare English underworld slang cherry "young girl," attested from 1889). Cherry-bounce, popular name of a cordial made from fermented cherries, is from 1690s.
"to select the very best selfishly," 1959 (implied in cherry-picking), American English (Billboard magazine), a pejorative figurative sense, from cherry (n.) + pick (v.). Related: Cherry-picked. Cherry-picker as a name for a crane with a bucket for raising and lowering persons (as to pick cherries from a tree) is by 1961; earlier it was the name of a type of railroad crane.
"cherry-colored," 1853, from French cerise, from rouge-cerise "cherry-red," from cerise "cherry" (see cherry). As a noun in reference to a shade of red, 1852.
also kirschwasser, "liquor distilled from fermented cherry juice," 1778, from German Kirschwasser, literally "cherry-water;" first element from Middle High German kirse, from Old High German kirsa, from Vulgar Latin *ceresia, from Late Latin cerasium "cherry" (see cherry). For second element, see water (n.1).
1778, "cherry liqueur," especially a type originating around Zara in Dalmatia, distilled from or flavored with marasca cherries, from Italian maraschino "strong, sweet liqueur made from juice of the marasca" (a bitter black cherry), a shortening of amarasca, from amaro "bitter," from Latin amārus "sour," from PIE root *om- "raw, bitter" (source also of Sanskrit amla- "sour, acid;" Old Norse apr "sharp, cold," Old English ampre "sour one").
They however have excellent Marasche, a kind of cherry, the nut of which gives a particular flavour to the spirituous liquor known by the name of Maraschino, of which a great quantity is distilled in Dalmatia, and especially at Zara by the Signori Carseniga. [Alberto Fortis, "Travels into Dalmatia," London, 1778]
Maraschino cherry, one preserved in real or imitation maraschino, is attested by 1894.
also corme, 1570s, "fruit of the service-tree," from French corme, from Latin cornum "cornel-cherry" (but applied to service-berries in French); see cornel. Of the tree itself, 1670s.
kind of bitter cherry with a dark red skin, 1640s, a word of uncertain origin, perhaps ultimately from Latin amarus "bitter." Earlier form was morell (1610s).
type of common European tree or shrub with an edible fruit, 1550s, from German cornel-baum, from Old High German cornul, from Medieval Latin cornolium, from French cornouille, from Vulgar Latin *cornuculum, from Latin cornum "cornel-cherry," which is perhaps related to Greek kerasos "cherry."
Old English also had borrowed the Latin word, in corntreow. The plant was noted for its hard wood, which was favored by the ancients for making shafts of spears and arrows.