"Vegetable" comes from the Latin vegetabilis (animated) and from vegetare (enliven), which is derived from vegetus (active), in reference to the process of a plant growing.
The word "vegetable" was first recorded in English in the 15th century, and originally applied to any plant. This is still the sense of the adjective "vegetable" in biological context. In 1967, the meaning of the term "vegetable" was specified to mean "plant cultivated for food, edible herb or root." The year 1955 noted the first use of the shortened, slang term "veggie".
As an adjective, the word vegetable is used in scientific and technical contexts with a different and much broader meaning, namely of "related to plants" in general, edible or not — as in vegetable matter, vegetable kingdom, vegetable origin, etc. The meaning of "vegetable" as "plant grown for food" was not established until the 18th century.
Read more about this topic: Vegetable
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Famous quotes containing the word etymology:
“Semantically, taste is rich and confusing, its etymology as odd and interesting as that of style. But while stylederiving from the stylus or pointed rod which Roman scribes used to make marks on wax tabletssuggests activity, taste is more passive.... Etymologically, the word we use derives from the Old French, meaning touch or feel, a sense that is preserved in the current Italian word for a keyboard, tastiera.”
—Stephen Bayley, British historian, art critic. Taste: The Story of an Idea, Taste: The Secret Meaning of Things, Random House (1991)
“The universal principle of etymology in all languages: words are carried over from bodies and from the properties of bodies to express the things of the mind and spirit. The order of ideas must follow the order of things.”
—Giambattista Vico (16881744)