General English

  • verb to cut back a tree or shrub, to keep it in good shape
  • verb to reduce the size of something such as expenditure or parts of a book


  • verb to remove pieces of a plant, in order to keep it in shape, or to reduce its vigour



  • verb to reduce a product range by deleting old products


  • noun a foolish person. A mild term of childish abuse, employing one of the less appetizing elements on the typical family and/or school-dinner menus of the 1950s and 1960s.

Origin & History of “prune”

English has two distinct words prune. The older, ‘dried plum’ (14th c.), is ultimately the same word as plum, and indeed in the 16th and 17th century was often used for ‘plum’. It comes via Old French prune from vulgar Latin *prūna, which also gave English (through Germanic) plum. Prune ‘cut off unneeded parts’ (15th c.) denotes etymologically ‘cut in a rounded shape in front’. It comes via Old French proignier from Vulgar Latin *prōrotundiāre, a compound verb formed from the Latin prefix prō- ‘in front’ and rotundus ‘round’ (source of English rotund and round).