General English


  • noun a Mediterranean tree with small yellowish-green edible fruit from which an edible oil can be produced.


  • feminine The oval fruit of a long-living evergreen tree, Olea europa, which grows in areas with hot summers and cool winters. The fruits, up to 4 cm long, are green when unripe and turn black when fully ripe. Both green and black olives are eaten raw, the green after treatment. Both kinds may be fermented (lactic fermentation) in a 10 per cent brine. The black are often partially dried and stored in oil. The fully ripe black olives are the source of olive oil.


  • noun the fruit of a tree, which gives an edible oil
  • noun a swelling containing grey matter, on the side of the pyramid of the medulla oblongata


  • noun a small black or green fruit from a Mediterranean tree, which is crushed to produce oil and is also eaten as food


  • a taste or aroma associated with red wines made wholly or partly from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety

Origin & History of “olive”

The word olive probably originated in a pre-Indo-European language of the Mediterranean area. Greek took it over as elaíā, and passed it on to English via Latin olīva and Old French olive. The olive’s chief economic role is as a source of oil (indeed the very word oil comes from a Greek derivative of elaíā), and before the word olive arrived in English, it was called eleberge, literally ‘oil-berry’.