kernel of the fruit of the almond tree, c. 1300, from Old French almande, amande, earlier alemondle "almond," from Vulgar Latin *amendla, *amandula, from Latin amygdala (plural), from Greek amygdalos "an almond tree," a word of unknown origin, perhaps from Semitic. Late Old English had amygdales "almonds."
It was altered in Medieval Latin by influence of amandus "loveable." In French it acquired an unetymological -l-, perhaps from Spanish almendra "almond," which got it by influence of the many Spanish words beginning with the Arabic definite article al-. Perhaps through similar confusion, Italian has dropped the first letter entirely (mandorla). As an adjective, applied to eyes shaped like almonds, especially of certain Asiatic peoples, from 1849.
updated on January 23, 2017