almond

Definitions

General English

Agriculture

  • noun a small tree (Prunus dulcis) grown for its edible nuts, or an edible nut produced by this tree

Food

  • The kernel (nut) of the fruit of the almond tree. The sweet variety, Prunus dulcis var. dulcis, is used whole, split, flaked, chopped or ground in cookery. The bitter variety, Prunus dulcis var. amara, is used for the production of almond essence and almond oil and very occasionally in cooking.

Wine

  • a taste or aroma associated with Italian wines, especially dry white wines such as Soave and Prosecco, but also with red Valpolicella

Origin & History of “almond”

The l in almond is a comparatively recent addition; its immediate source, Latin amandula, did not have one (and nor, correspondingly, do French amande, Portuguese amendoa, Italian mandola, or German mandel). But the relative frequency of the prefix al- in Latin-derived words seems to have prompted its grafting on to amandula in its passage from Latin to Old French, giving a hypothetical *almandle and eventually al(e)mande. French in due course dropped the l, but English acquired the word when it was still there.

Going further back in time, the source of amandula was Latin amygdula, of which it was an alteration, and amygdula in turn was borrowed from the Greek word for ‘almond’, amygdálē. The Latin and Greek forms have been reborrowed into English at a much later date in various scientific terms: amygdala, for instance, an almond-shaped mass of nerve tissue in the brain; amygdalin, a glucoside found in bitter almonds; and amygdaloid, a rock with almond-shaped cavities.
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