AskDefine | Define fruit

Dictionary Definition



1 the ripened reproductive body of a seed plant
2 the consequence of some effort or action; "he lived long enough to see the fruit of his policies"
3 an amount of a product [syn: yield]


1 cause to bear fruit
2 bear fruit; "the trees fruited early this year"

User Contributed Dictionary



(1125–75) Middle English fruit, fruits and vegetables, from Old French fruit, from fructus, enjoyment, proceeds, profits, produce, income, a derivative of frui, to have the benefit of, to use, to enjoy, from ; cognate with Modern German brauchen, to use.


  • , /fɹuːt/, /fru:t/
  • Rhymes with: -uːt


(see Usage notes for discussion of plural)
  1. The seed-bearing part of a plant, often edible, colourful/colorful and fragrant, produced from a floral ovary after fertilization.
    While cucumber is technically a fruit, one would not usually use it to make jam.
  2. Any sweet, edible part of a plant that resembles seed-bearing fruit, even if it does not develop from a floral ovary; also used in a technically imprecise sense for some sweet or sweetish vegetables, such as rhubarb, that resemble a true fruit or are used in cookery as if they were a fruit.
    Fruit salad is a simple way of making fruits into a dessert.
  3. A positive end result or reward of labour or effort.
    His long nights in the office eventually bore fruit, when his business boomed and he was given a raise.
  4. Offspring from a sexual union.
    The litter was the fruit of the union between our whippet and their terrier.
  5. slang offensive A homosexual or effeminate man.

Usage notes

  • In the botanical and figurative senses, fruit is a singular noun and also used as a collective noun.
    a bowl of fruit; eat plenty of fruit; the tree provides fruit.
  • Fruits is also sometimes used as the plural in the botanical sense.
    berries, achenes, and nuts are all fruits; the fruits of this plant split into two parts.''
  • When fruit is used as a collective noun in the botanical sense, a piece of fruit is often used as the corresponding singular form.
  • In senses other than the botanical or figurative ones derived from the botanical sense, the plural is fruits.


part of plant
figuratively: positive end result or reward of labour or effort
figuratively: child of a marriage
offensive slang: homosexual or effeminate man


  1. To produce fruit.

See also



Latin fructus






fruit (invariable)
  1. fruit (produced by trees or bushes, or any sweet vegetable)




  • /fʁɥi/


fr-noun m
  1. fruit (1)
  2. fruit (2)
  3. fruit (3)
  4. fruit (4)

Extensive Definition

The term fruit has many different meanings depending on context. In botany, a fruit is the ripened ovary—together with seeds— of a flowering plant. In many species, the fruit incorporates the ripened ovary and the surrounding tissues. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants disseminate seeds.
In cuisine, when food items are called "fruit", the term is most often used for those plant fruits that are edible and sweet and fleshy, examples of which include plums, apples and oranges. But in cooking, the word fruit may also rarely be loosely applied to other parts of a plant, such as the stems of rhubarb, which are made into sweet pies, but which are not botanically a fruit at all.
Although the word fruit has limited use in cooking, in reality a great many common vegetables, as well as nuts and grains, are botanically speaking, the fruits of various plant species. No single terminology really fits the enormous variety that is found among plant fruits. The cuisine terminology for fruits is quite inexact and is likely to remain so.
The term false fruit (pseudocarp, accessory fruit) is sometimes applied to a fruit like the fig (a multiple-accessory fruit; see below) or to a plant structure that resembles a fruit but is not derived from a flower or flowers. Some gymnosperms, such as yew, have fleshy arils that resemble fruits and some junipers have berry-like, fleshy cones. The term "fruit" has also been inaccurately applied to the seed-containing female cones of many conifers.
With most cultivated fruits, pollination is a vital part of fruit culture, and the lack of knowledge of pollinators and pollenizers can contribute to poor crops or poor quality crops. In a few species, the fruit may develop in the absence of pollination/fertilization, a process known as parthenocarpy. Such fruits are seedless. A plant that does not produce fruit is known as acarpous, meaning "without fruit".

Botanic fruit and culinary fruit

Many foods are botanically fruit, but are treated as vegetables in cooking and food preparation. These include cucurbits (e.g., squash, pumpkin, and cucumber), tomato, peas, beans, corn, eggplant, and sweet pepper, spices, such as allspice and chillies. In the culinary sense, a fruit is usually any sweet tasting plant product associated with seed(s), a vegetable is any savoury or less sweet plant product, and a nut any hard, oily, and shelled plant product.
Although a nut is a type of fruit, it is also a popular term for edible seeds, such as peanuts (which are actually a legume) and pistachios. Technically, a cereal grain is a fruit termed a caryopsis. However, the fruit wall is very thin and fused to the seed coat so almost all of the edible grain is actually a seed. Therefore, cereal grains, such as corn, wheat and rice are better considered edible seeds, although some references list them as fruits. Edible gymnosperms seeds are often misleadingly given fruit names, e.g. pine nuts, ginkgo nuts, and juniper berries.

Fruit development

A fruit is a ripened ovary. After the ovule in an ovary is fertilized in a process known as pollination, the ovary begins to ripen. The ovule develops into a seed and the ovary wall pericarp may become fleshy (as in berries or drupes), or form a hard outer covering (as in nuts). In some cases, the sepals, petals and/or stamens and style of the flower fall off. Fruit development continues until the seeds have matured. With some multiseeded fruits the extent to which the flesh develops is proportional to the number of fertilized ovules.
The wall of the fruit, developed from the ovary wall of the flower, is called the pericarp. The pericarp is often differentiated into two or three distinct layers called the exocarp (outer layer - also called epicarp), mesocarp (middle layer), and endocarp (inner layer). In some fruits, especially simple fruits derived from an inferior ovary, other parts of the flower (such as the floral tube, including the petals, sepals, and stamens), fuse with the ovary and ripen with it. The plant hormone ethylene causes ripening. When such other floral parts are a significant part of the fruit, it is called an accessory fruit. Since other parts of the flower may contribute to the structure of the fruit, it is important to study flower structure to understand how a particular fruit forms. Types of dry, simple fruits (with examples) are:
Fruits in which part or all of the pericarp (fruit wall) is fleshy at maturity are simple fleshy fruits. Types of fleshy, simple fruits (with examples) are:

Aggregate fruit

An aggregate fruit, or etaerio, develops from a flower with numerous simple pistils. An example is the raspberry, whose simple fruits are termed drupelets because each is like a small drupe attached to the receptacle. In some bramble fruits (such as blackberry) the receptacle is elongated and part of the ripe fruit, making the blackberry an aggregate-accessory fruit. The strawberry is also an aggregate-accessory fruit, only one in which the seeds are contained in achenes. In all these examples, the fruit develops from a single flower with numerous pistils.
Some kinds of aggregate fruits are called berries, yet in the botanical sense they are not.

Multiple fruit

A multiple fruit is one formed from a cluster of flowers (called an inflorescence). Each flower produces a fruit, but these mature into a single mass. Examples are the pineapple, edible fig, mulberry, osage-orange, and breadfruit.
In the photograph on the right, stages of flowering and fruit development in the noni or Indian mulberry (Morinda citrifolia) can be observed on a single branch. First an inflorescence of white flowers called a head is produced. After fertilization, each flower develops into a drupe, and as the drupes expand, they become connate (merge) into a multiple fleshy fruit called a syncarpet.
There are also many dry multiple fruits, e.g.

Fruit chart

To summarize common types of fruit:
  • Berry -- simple fruit and seeds created from a single ovary
  • False berries -- Epigynous fruit made from a part of the plant other than a single ovary
  • Compound fruit, which includes:
    • Aggregate fruit -- multiple fruits with seeds from different ovaries of a single flower
    • Multiple fruit -- fruits of separate flowers, packed closely together
  • Other accessory fruit -- where the edible part is not generated by the ovary

Seedless fruits

Seedlessness is an important feature of some fruits of commerce. Commercial cultivars of bananas and pineapples are examples of seedless fruits. Some cultivars of citrus fruits (especially navel oranges and mandarin oranges), table grapes, grapefruit, and watermelons are valued for their seedlessness. In some species, seedlessness is the result of parthenocarpy, where fruits set without fertilization. Parthenocarpic fruit set may or may not require pollination. Most seedless citrus fruits require a pollination stimulus; bananas and pineapples do not. Seedlessness in table grapes results from the abortion of the embryonic plant that is produced by fertilization, a phenomenon known as stenospermocarpy which requires normal pollination and fertilization.
Some fruits have coats covered with spikes or hooked burrs, either to prevent themselves from being eaten by animals or to stick to the hairs, feathers or legs of animals, using them as dispersal agents. Examples include cocklebur and unicorn plant.
The sweet flesh of many fruits is "deliberately" appealing to animals, so that the seeds held within are eaten and "unwittingly" carried away and deposited at a distance from the parent. Likewise, the nutritious, oily kernels of nuts are appealing to rodents (such as squirrels) who hoard them in the soil in order to avoid starving during the winter, thus giving those seeds that remain uneaten the chance to germinate and grow into a new plant away from their parent.


Many hundreds of fruits, including fleshy fruits like apple, peach, pear, kiwifruit, watermelon and mango are commercially valuable as human food, eaten both fresh and as jams, marmalade and other preserves. Fruits are also in manufactured foods like cookies, muffins, yoghurt, ice cream, cakes, and many more. Many fruits are used to make beverages, such as fruit juices (orange juice, apple juice, grape juice, etc) or alcoholic beverages, such as wine or brandy. Apples are often used to make vinegar.
Many vegetables are botanical fruits, including tomato, bell pepper, eggplant, okra, squash, pumpkin, green bean, cucumber and zucchini. Olive fruit is pressed for olive oil. Spices like vanilla, paprika, allspice and black pepper are derived from berries.

Nutritional value

Fruits are generally high in fiber, water and vitamin C. Fruits also contain various phytochemicals that do not yet have an RDA/RDI listing under most nutritional factsheets, and which research indicates are required for proper long-term cellular health and disease prevention. Regular consumption of fruit is associated with reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer disease, cataracts, and some of the functional declines associated with aging.

Nonfood uses

Because fruits have been such a major part of the human diet, different cultures have developed many different uses for various fruits that they do not depend on as being edible. Many dry fruits are used as decorations or in dried flower arrangements, such as unicorn plant, lotus, wheat, annual honesty and milkweed. Ornamental trees and shrubs are often cultivated for their colorful fruits, including holly, pyracantha, viburnum, skimmia, beautyberry and cotoneaster.
Fruits of opium poppy are the source of the drugs opium and morphine. Osage orange fruits are used to repel cockroaches. Bayberry fruits provide a wax often used to make candles. Many fruits provide natural dyes, e.g. walnut, sumac, cherry and mulberry. Dried gourds are used as decorations, water jugs, bird houses, musical instruments, cups and dishes. Pumpkins are carved into Jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween. The spiny fruit of burdock or cocklebur were the inspiration for the invention of Velcro.
Coir is a fibre from the fruit of coconut that is used for doormats, brushes, mattresses, floortiles, sacking, insulation and as a growing medium for container plants. The shell of the coconut fruit is used to make souvenir heads, cups, bowls, musical instruments and bird houses.


India is world leader in fresh fruit production followed by Vietnam and then China.
Philippines is world leader in tropical fresh fruit production followed by Indonesia and then India.


External links

fruit in Arabic: فواكه
fruit in Aragonese: Fruita
fruit in Guarani: Yva
fruit in Aymara: Achu
fruit in Min Nan: Kóe-chí
fruit in Bulgarian: Плод
fruit in Catalan: Fruit
fruit in Czech: Ovoce
fruit in Welsh: Ffrwyth
fruit in Danish: Frugt
fruit in German: Frucht
fruit in Estonian: Vili
fruit in Modern Greek (1453-): Φρούτα
fruit in Spanish: Fruta
fruit in Esperanto: Frukto
fruit in Persian: میوه
fruit in French: Fruit
fruit in Korean: 열매
fruit in Hindi: फल
fruit in Croatian: Voće
fruit in Ido: Frukto
fruit in Indonesian: Buah
fruit in Icelandic: Ávöxtur
fruit in Italian: Frutto
fruit in Hebrew: פרי
fruit in Javanese: Woh
fruit in Swahili (macrolanguage): Tunda
fruit in Haitian: Fwi
fruit in Latin: Fructus
fruit in Latvian: Auglis
fruit in Lithuanian: Vaisius
fruit in Hungarian: Gyümölcs
fruit in Malay (macrolanguage): Buah
fruit in Dutch: Vrucht (plant)
fruit in Japanese: 果実
fruit in Neapolitan: Frutto
fruit in Norwegian: Frukt
fruit in Norwegian Nynorsk: Frukt
fruit in Narom: Frit
fruit in Polish: Owoc
fruit in Portuguese: Fruto
fruit in Romanian: Fruct
fruit in Quechua: Ruru
fruit in Russian: Фрукт
fruit in Northern Sami: Šattus
fruit in Albanian: Fruti
fruit in Sicilian: Frutta
fruit in Simple English: Fruit
fruit in Slovenian: Plod
fruit in Serbian: Плод
fruit in Finnish: Hedelmä
fruit in Swedish: Frukt
fruit in Tagalog: Bungang-kahoy
fruit in Tamil: பழம்
fruit in Thai: ผลไม้
fruit in Cheyenne: Mene
fruit in Turkish: Meyve
fruit in Ukrainian: Плід
fruit in Yiddish: פרוכט
fruit in Contenese: 果
fruit in Samogitian: Vaisios
fruit in Chinese: 果实

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Catawba, Persian melon, Valencia orange, acorn, advantages, aftermath, akee, alligator pear, ananas, apple, apricot, artifact, auntie, avocado, banana, bear, bear fruit, bearberry, bearing, benefits, berry, bi-guy, bilberry, bird seed, bisexual, blackberry, brainchild, breed, bring forth, brood, bull dyke, bumper crop, butch, by-product, cacao, candleberry, canistel, cantaloupe, capulin, casaba, catamite, checkerberry, cherimoya, cherry, chicken, child, children, citrange, citron, citrus, citrus fruit, civet fruit, coinage, compensation, composition, concoction, consequence, consequences, consequent, corollary, crab apple, cranberry, creation, creature, crop, crowning achievement, currant, custard apple, damson, date, derivation, derivative, descendants, descent, deserts, development, dewberry, distillate, distillation, drupe, dyke, effect, elderberry, emolument, end product, essence, event, eventuality, eventuation, extract, fag, faggot, fairy, family, feijoa, femme, fig, flaxseed, flit, fricatrice, fructify, fruit cocktail, fruit compote, fruit soup, fruits, furnish, gooseberry, grain, grandchildren, grape, grapefruit, great-grandchildren, guanabana, guava, gunsel, handiwork, harvest, hayseed, heirs, homo, homophile, homosexual, homosexualist, honeydew, hostages to fortune, huckleberry, icaco, ilama, imbu, income, inheritors, invention, invert, issue, jaboticaba, jackfruit, jujube, kernel, kids, kumquat, legacy, lemon, lesbian, lime, lineage, lingonberry, linseed, litchi, little ones, loganberry, logical outcome, loquat, make, mammee apple, mandarin orange, mango, mangosteen, manufacture, manzanilla, marang, masterpiece, masterwork, mayapple, medlar, melon, mintage, mulberry, muscadine, muscat, muscatel, muskmelon, nance, navel orange, nectarine, new generation, new mintage, nut, nutmeg melon, offshoot, offspring, olive, opera, opus, opuscule, orange, origination, outcome, outgrowth, output, pansy, papaw, papaya, passion fruit, pathic, payment, peach, pear, persimmon, pineapple, pip, pippin, pit, plantain, plum, plumcot, pomegranate, posterity, precipitate, proceeds, produce, product, production, products, profits, progeny, prune, punk, queen, queer, quince, raisin, rambutan, raspberry, recompense, red currant, result, resultant, results, returns, rising generation, sapphist, second crop, seed, sequel, sequela, sequence, sequent, sons, stone, stone fruit, strawberry, succession, sugar apple, sugarplum, sweetsop, tangelo, tangerine, treasures, tribade, ugli fruit, upshot, vintage, work, yield, younglings, youngsters
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