General English


  • noun a legume crop, grown for its large round pale-yellow seeds. It is important in India and Pakistan as a source of protein.


  • A legume, Cicer arietinum, with 2 or 3 brown or yellow peas per pod, usually used as a dried pulse or ground to make besan, but may be used like broad beans. Common around the Mediterranean in the Middle East and India.


  • noun a pale yellow seed about the size of a large pea, cooked as a vegetable

Origin & History of “chickpea”

Chickpeas have nothing to do with chickens, and only remotely anything to do with peas (they are both legumes). The word comes ultimately from Latin cicer (the name of the Roman orator Cicero is based on it – one of his ancestors must have had a chickpea-shaped wart). That came into English in the 14th century, by way of Old French, as chich, and chich remained for several centuries the name of the vegetable. The French, meanwhile, noting the leguminous resemblance, had taken to calling it pois chiche, which the English duly translated in the 16th century as chich-pea. Later, folk-etymology transformed chich to chick.