Word of the day – pomodoro

pomodoro, noun = tomato

One of the things Christopher Columbus brought back from the “New World” was the tomato. People believed that tomatoes were poisonous at first, but had started to fry and eat them like eggplants (aubergines) by the beginning of the 18th century.

The Italians gave tomatoes the same nickname as eggplant, pomo di moro, which means ‘fruit of the Moors’. At that time, the Moors were often thought to have introduced new products. Over time, pomo di moro changed to pomodoro, which was mistranlated as ‘apples of gold’ (pomo d’oro) by English-speaking historians.

The English word tomato comes, via Spanish tomate, from the Nahuatl word tomatl, which means literally “the swelling fruit”. Interestingly, tomatoes were not commonly eaten in the USA until after 1830.

In Manx, a tomato is ooyl ghraih (lit. “love apple”), tomato or traase. In Irish, tomato is trátaí.

An Introduction to Language and Linguistics, by Ralph W. Fasold and Jeff Connor-Linton

This entry was posted in Italian, Language, Words and phrases.

5 Responses to Word of the day – pomodoro

  1. Damien Ryan says:

    In Irish tomato is tráta. Trátaí is the plural.

  2. TJ says:

    If a tomato is called “love apple” in Manx, why it is not expected to be “úll grá” as well in irish?

  3. The word of the day, ‘pomodoro’, has a tricky plural.
    According to the standard grammar rules, one would expect ‘pomodori’.
    But since the word is the compound of ‘pomo d’oro’ (= golden apple), only ‘pomo’ should change, whence ‘pomidoro’ is the correct plural. In fact, this is how it used to be spelt more or less regularly. Nevertheless, ‘pomodori’ has always been tolerated, especially in the spoken language.

    During the past two-three decades the use of the correct form has gradually declined in favour of the simpler one, both in the written and spoken language, being ‘pomidoro’ now found but on some labels of canned tomatoes.

    It would be interesting to hear from non-native Italian speakers: what plural form does your own dictionary suggest?

  4. Declan says:

    Pomodori is what mine says.

  5. Adam says:

    I typed “tomatoes” into the online translator at http://www.altavista.com, and it gave me pomodori.

    This same phenomenon occurs in English as well. The original past tense of “work” used to be “wrought”. the so-called incorrect form of “worked” became more popular, and eventually replaced “wrought.” (The word “wrought” is still in use, but now has a distinct meaning separate from “work”).

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