Advertisement
7 entries found.
Search filter: All Results 
banana (n.)

edible fruit of an endogenous plant of the tropics, 1590s; in reference to the plant itself, 1690s; borrowed by Spanish or Portuguese from a West African word, possibly Wolof banana. The plant seems to be native to Southeast Asia and the East Indies; it was introduced in Africa in prehistoric times and brought to the New World from Africa in 1516.

Banana-skin is from 1851, banana-peel from 1874, both originally with reference to them being left carelessly on the ground and liable to cause a pratfall when trodden upon. The nuisance was a frequent complaint in cities, and there seems to have been a regular insurance scam targeting streetcar lines in the 1890s.

The companies that have paid damages for fraudulent claims are the Manhattan Elevated Company, New York; West End Street Railway, Boston; Chicago City Railway Company, Chicago; Illinois Central Railroad Company, Chicago. The alleged injury was the same in each case, paralysis of the lower limbs, caused by slipping on a banana peel. [Street Railway Review, Jan. 15, 1895]

Banana split is attested from 1905. Banana oil "nonsense" is slang from c. 1910; probably from earlier use as the name of a chemical substance (also called banana liquid and essence of banana) used by 1873, one of the earliest artificial flavorings. Top banana, second banana, etc. are 1950s, from show business slang use of banana for "comedian," especially in a burlesque show.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
banana republic (n.)
"small Central American state with an economy dependent on banana production," 1901, American English.
Related entries & more 
plantain (n.1)

"tropical banana-like tree or fruit," 1550s, plantan, from Spanish plátano, plántano, probably from Carib palatana "banana" (Arawak pratane), and altered by association with Spanish plátano "plane tree," from Medieval Latin plantanus "plane tree," itself altered (by association with Latin planta "plant") from Latin platanus (see plane (n.4)). So called from the shape of its leaves. There is no similarity or relation between this plant and plantain (n.2).

Related entries & more 
manilla (1)

variant of Manila used in derived names, especially manilla hemp (1814) "fibrous material obtained from the leaves of the abaca, a type of banana plant native to the Philippines, used to make ropes, mats, etc." It is the source of manilla paper (1832).

Related entries & more 
mellow (adj.)

mid-15c., melwe, of fruit, "soft, sweet, juicy" (especially from ripeness), perhaps a variant of merow "soft, tender," from Old English mearu "soft, tender." General sense of "of ripe age or quality, perfected by maturing," from 1590s. Of color by 1560s; of sound, "soft, rich, or delicate to the perception," by 1660s. Meaning "slightly drunk, rendered good-humored or genial by intoxication" is from 1680s. Modern slang sense of "feeling good after smoking marijuana" is by 1946. Mellow yellow "banana peel smoked in an effort to get high" is from 1967. Related: Mellowly; mellowness.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
bananas (adj.)
"crazy," 1968; earlier it was noted as an underworld slang term for "sexually perverted" (1935).
Related entries & more 
apple (n.)

Old English æppel "apple; any kind of fruit; fruit in general," from Proto-Germanic *ap(a)laz (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch appel, Old Norse eple, Old High German apful, German Apfel), from PIE *ab(e)l- "apple" (source also of Gaulish avallo "fruit;" Old Irish ubull, Lithuanian obuolys, Old Church Slavonic jabloko "apple"), but the exact relation and original sense of these is uncertain (compare melon).

A roted eppel amang þe holen, makeþ rotie þe yzounde. ["Ayenbite of Inwit," 1340]

In Middle English and as late as 17c., it was a generic term for all fruit other than berries but including nuts (such as Old English fingeræppla "dates," literally "finger-apples;" Middle English appel of paradis "banana," c. 1400). Hence its grafting onto the unnamed "fruit of the forbidden tree" in Genesis. Cucumbers, in one Old English work, are eorþæppla, literally "earth-apples" (compare French pomme de terre "potato," literally "earth-apple;" see also melon). French pomme is from Latin pomum "apple; fruit" (see Pomona).

As far as the forbidden fruit is concerned, again, the Quran does not mention it explicitly, but according to traditional commentaries it was not an apple, as believed by Christians and Jews, but wheat. [Seyyed Hossein Nasr, "The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity," 2002]

Apple of Discord (c. 1400) was thrown into the wedding of Thetis and Peleus by Eris (goddess of chaos and discord), who had not been invited, and inscribed kallisti "To the Prettiest One." Paris, elected to choose which goddess should have it, gave it to Aphrodite, offending Hera and Athene, with consequences of the Trojan War, etc.

Apple of one's eye (Old English), symbol of what is most cherished, was the pupil, supposed to be a globular solid body. Apple-polisher "one who curries favor" first attested 1928 in student slang. The image in the phrase upset the apple cart "spoil the undertaking" is attested from 1788. Road-apple "horse dropping" is from 1942.

Related entries & more