General English


  • noun the structure of a plant formed after flowering and usually containing seeds. Many fruits are eaten as food.
  • noun the fleshy material round the fruit which is eaten as food


  • masculine The seed-bearing part of any growing plant, but generally restricted to those fruits in which the seeds are unimportant and the flesh or juice sac surrounding the seeds contains, when ripe, a high proportion of sugar plus various esters which give the fruit its distinctive flavour. The natural function of such fruits is to be eaten by animals who as a result disperse the seeds. Some fruit trees and bushes have been bred to have infertile seeds with no or only vestigial seeds.


  • noun a male homosexual. From the idea of exotic, ‘ripe’, etc. A common term of abuse in the USA since the early 20th century.
  • noun an eccentric person. A shortening of fruitcake.


  • noun the part of a plant which contains the seeds and which is often eaten raw


  • a fruity taste in wine

Origin & History of “fruit”

English acquired fruit via Old French fruit from Latin frūctus, a source more clearly on display in fructify (14th c.), fructose (19th c.), etc. The underlying meaning of the Latin noun seems to have been ‘enjoyment of that which is produced’, for it came, like frūx (source of English frugal), from a base which also produced the verb fruī ‘enjoy’. By classical times, however, it had passed from ‘enjoyment’ to the ‘product’ itself – the ‘rewards’ of an enterprise, the ‘return’ on an investment, or the ‘produce’ obtained from the soil or from farm animals. when it reached English this latter meaning had narrowed down somewhat, but it was still capable of being used far more broadly, for any ‘edible vegetable’, than we would do today, except in certain archaic expressions such as ‘fruits of the earth’. The modern restriction to the edible reproductive body of a tree, bush, etc dates from the 13th century. English retains, of course, the more general sense ‘product, result’, although this is now usually expressed by the plural fruits.