walnut

Definitions

Agriculture

  • noun a hardwood tree of the genus Juglans, with edible nuts. The timber is used in furniture making.

Construction

  • Juglans regia, J. nigria, and J. cinerea respectively. The last two, native to North America, are used for veneer and furniture stock, in addition to their edible nuts. See also English walnut, black walnut, butternut.

Food

  • The brown nut from the fruit of the walnut tree, Juglans regia and J. nigra, which when ripe has a crinkly brain-like appearance and is enclosed in a hard relatively smooth brown shell up to 4 cm in diameter. The nut has a distinctive flavour and is used in both savoury and sweet dishes. The unripe nuts and shells are often pickled in vinegar or preserved in syrup.

Travel

  • noun a hard round nut with a wrinkled shell

Origin & History of “walnut”

A walnut is etymologically a ‘foreign nut’. Its name alludes to the fact that the nut was regarded by the Germanic peoples as an exotic import from southern Europe, land of Romans and Celts (their own native nut was the hazel). Prehistoric Germanic *walkhaz originally meant ‘Celtic’ (it was borrowed from Latin Volcae, the name of a Celtic people), but it soon broadened out to include anyone or anything foreign (including the Romans) within its scope. Its original Celtic connotations survive, however, in Welsh and Walloon (the name of a people of Gaulish origin), both of which go back to *walkhaz. English shares the formation walnut with its Germanic neighbours – German walnuss, Dutch walnoot, Swedish valnöt, and Danish valnød.
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