General English



  • A vegetable, Brassica olereacea (Botrytis Group), consisting of a short thick central stalk topped with a white hemispherical head of closely packed immature flowers, 10–15 cm in diameter surrounded with long green leaves. Usually eaten raw, steamed, boiled or pickled.


  • noun a cabbage-like vegetable with a large white flower head, which is eaten

Origin & History of “cauliflower”

Cauliflower is literally ‘flowered cabbage’. English probably borrowed and adapted the word from Italian cavoli fiori, plural of cavolo fiore ‘cabbage flower’. Cavolo came from late Latin caulus, a variant of Latin caulis ‘cabbage’. This word originally meant ‘stem’, but the notion ultimately underlying it is ‘hollow stem’, for it can be traced back to an Indo-European base which also produced hole and hollow. It was borrowed early on into the Germanic languages, and via this route has produced in English the now rare cole ‘cabbage, rape’(14th c.) (more familiar in the Dutch borrowing coleslaw); the Scots version kale (13th c.), from Old Norse kál, best known south of the border in the form curly kale; and via German kohlrabi (19th c.), the last element of which is related to English rape the plant.