WOTD: vegetable

Today’s word is a noun that is defined in general terms as, “any plant whose fruit, seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves, or flower parts are used as food.” It comes from the Late Latin word vegetābilis which means “able to live and grow.”

Basically a vegetable can be any edible part of any plant. This means that all fruits are vegetables. However, not all vegetables are fruits.

A fruit is the fleshy part of the plant that develops from the flower or blossom. The strawberry is a typical example of a fruit.  Fruits are meant to be eaten and are essential components of the plant’s reproductive system. The sweet fleshy part is merely window dressing for the all important seeds. Mother Nature has it all figured out, you see. In theory, an animal eats a fruit, seeds and all. Later on that same animal excretes those seeds completely intact and conveniently encased in their own little envelope of fertilizer.

Many of the things that we think of as vegetables are actually fruits. Examples include tomatoes, avocados, and red hot chili peppers. The fruit that is, not the band.

One of my favorite quotations is, “Knowledge is understanding that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

The Swedish word for vegetable is “grönsak” (literally “green thing”) despite the fact that not all vegetables are green.

Remember to eat your veggies…

3 thoughts on “WOTD: vegetable

  1. Hmmm. Fascinating. Now, could you explain the origin of the phrase “don’t just lay there like a vegetable”? Would that actually mean “don’t just lay there like something able to live and grow”? That seems odd.

  2. Hahaha…it does seem odd. A “vegetative state” is an actual medical condition. It’s different from a coma but I’m not sure how.

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