General English


  • noun a creeping plant (Cucumis sativus) with long green fleshy fruit, used as a salad vegetable


  • A fruit of a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, Cucumis sativus,, introduced to the UK from India in 1573 and harvested in the unripe green stage between 5 and 35 cm in length and 1.5 to 5 cm in diameter. The smaller ones are usually pickled in flavoured brine or vinegar, the larger are generally eaten raw as a salad vegetable or deseeded, salted, drained and diced combined with herbs and yoghurt or used as a bulking agent in various mixtures.


  • noun a long cylindrical green vegetable used in salads or for pickling

Origin & History of “cucumber”

English acquired this word as cucumer, by direct borrowing from Latin cucumer, which may originally have been a word of some pre-Italic Mediterranean language. The form spelled with a b did not appear until the 15th century. It seems to have been a blend of middle English cucumer and Old French coucombre, which itself ultimately derived from Latin cucumer. Spellings based on the Old French form led to a pronunciation of the first syllable as ‘cow’, which persisted until the early 19th century.