Pumpkin Names

Pumpkin Names

The name pumpkin is derived from the Greek pepon, which means large melon. The word was adapted by the French as pompon, and later changed to pumpion by the English. By the late 17th century, English-speaking immigrants in the New World started pronouncing it as pumpkin, which remains the standard pronunciation to this day.

Pumpkin generally refers to any round, orange squash that is used for jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pie. In the U.S., the term pumpkin can be a bit of a misnomer, as it places the emphasis on color, but not the botanical makeup of the plant. Native to parts of Central or South America, pumpkins are squashes that are a part of the gourd family, and they have become a popular culinary staple all over the world.

Like all other plants, pumpkins are assigned a botanical name after being classified into specific plant families and species according to their characteristics. The Latin name for pumpkin is Cucurbita pepo. Furthermore, other names for pumpkin exist in the marketplace, where different cultivars are referred to by their commercial names, such as 'Big Tom', 'Jack Be Little', 'Baby Boo', 'Autumn Gold', 'Jumpin' Jack', and 'Sweetie Pie'.

Pumpkin Names Around the World

For thousands of years, pumpkins have been cultivated for nourishment, decoration, and therapeutic purposes. A common dietary staple during ancient times, the pumpkin has witnessed a culinary resurgence in recent years, which has piqued the interest of many consumers worldwide who could benefit from knowing the other names for pumpkin across the globe. The following are among the most popular pumpkin names around the world:

Afrikaans name: pampoen

Arabic names: qar' miskî , qar'miski, qara' sudani, qar'ah yábisah

Chinese names: nan gua, nam gua, fan gua, fan kua, jin dong gua, zhong guo

Czech name: tykev pimová

Danish names: centnergræskar, kroghals, krumhalsgréskar, moskusgréskar

Dutch names: pompoen, reuzenkalebas

English names: pumpkin, squash, summer squash, winter squash, ornamental gourd

Finnish name: jättiläiskurpitsa

French names: citrouille, potiron, potimarron, pompon, courge (gourde), courgette, giromons (giraumon/giraumont), calabasse, patisson

Gaelic name: peapag

German name: kürbis (kirbiz)

Greek name: pepon

Hebrew name: delaat

Hindi name: vilayati kaddu

Hungarian name: pézsmatök

Italian names: popone, cocuzza, zucca

Japanese names: kabocha, kabotcha

Korean name: hipak

Latin names: Cucurbita, Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita pepo L., Cucurbita argyrosperma, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata

Norwegian name: muskatgraskar

Polish name: dynia pizmowa

Portuguese names: abóbora, jerimum (jerimu, jerumu, jirimu, jirumum, jurumu, gerimum, gurumu, girimu, girumum)

Russian names: tykva, tykva krupnoplodnaja

Slovenian name: mukatna bua

Spanish names: calabaza, tamalayotl

Swedish name: bisampumpa

Tagalog name: kalabasa

Thai names: fak thong, namtao farang

Vietnamese names: bi do, bi ngo

Yoruba name: elegede

There is a plethora of botanical and commercial pumpkin names that exist to describe the same delicious fruit. However, despite the complexity of the words used to characterize pumpkin, the one thing that remains clear is that pumpkin, cultivated since ancient times, is an herb of immense culinary importance all over the world.

Bibliography

  • Florida Ethnobotany, pp. 251-253
  • Growing Chinese Vegetables in Your Own Backyard, p. 40
  • Medicinal Plants of the Borderlands, A bilingual resource guide
  • Vegetables of Canada, p. 175
  • University of Illinois, Extension Office, Pumpkins and More
  • Edible Medicinal And Non-Medicinal Plants, Volume 2, Fruits, pp. 266-268
  • Missouri Botanical Garden, Gardening Help FAQs, Horticulture questions and answers