General English


  • noun a purple fruit of the eggplant (Solanum melongena), used as a vegetable. A native of tropical Asia, it is sometimes called by its Indian name ‘brinjal’.


  • feminine The purple fruit of an East Indian annual plant, Solanum melongena, of the same family as the tomato and deadly nightshade. Generally violet to deep purple in Europe and North America and up to 30 cm long, but can be white or deep yellow streaked with purple and the size of a hen’s egg. The bitter taste of some varieties is removed by sprinkling with salt and allowing to drain.


  • noun the shiny purple-black fruit of the eggplant Solanum melongena, used as a vegetable.

Origin & History of “aubergine”

Etymologically, the aubergine is the ‘anti-fart vegetable’. that was the meaning of its ultimate source, Sanskrit vātinganah, so named because it did not produce intestinal gas. This was borrowed into Persian as bādingān, and reached Arabic as (with the definite article al) al-bādindjān. It then made its way with the Moors into the Iberian peninsula: here it produced Portuguese beringela (source of brinjal (18th c.), an Indian and African English term for ‘aubergine’) and, with the definite article retained, Catalan alberginia. French turned this into aubergine and passed it on to English. In British English it has gradually replaced the earlier eggplant, named after the vegetable’s shape, which American English has retained.