General English


  • noun a vegetable grown as a specialised crop


  • A plant of the thistle family, Cynara scolymus, whose unopened flower buds are used in cooking, particularly the base of the bracts and the base of the immature flower. The choke consisting of the immature petals and stamens, etc. is removed.

Origin & History of “artichoke”

The word artichoke is of Arabic origin; it comes from al kharshōf ‘the artichoke’, which was the Arabic term for a plant of the thistle family with edible flower-parts. This was borrowed into Spanish as alcarchofa, and passed from there into Italian as arcicioffo. In northern dialects this became articiocco, the form in which the word was borrowed into other European languages, including English.

The term was first applied to the Jerusalem artichoke, a plant with edible tuberous roots, early in the 17th century. The epithet Jerusalem has no connection with the holy city; it arose by folk etymology, that is, the adaptation of an unfamiliar foreign word to the lexical system of one’s own language. In this case the word was girasole, Italian for ‘sunflower’ (the Jerusalem artichoke is of the sunflower family).