Root bags

rutabaga, swede, (Swedish) turnip, neep, moot

One of the words that came up in the French conversation group last night was rutabaga [ʁy.ta.ba.ɡa], a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip, and that was possibly introduced from Sweden.

The word rutabaga was borrowed in 1799 from the Swedish word rotabagge, a dialect word from Västergötland in southern Sweden, from rot (root) and‎ bagge (bag, short, stumpy object) [source].

This vegetable has a variety of names in different places:

  • In botanical Latin it is brassica napobrassica
  • In North America it is rutabaga, which is also used in French and Portuguese
  • In the England, Australia, New Zealand it is swede (from “Swedish turnip”).
  • In parts of northern England and the midlands, and in parts of Canada, it is a turnip.
  • In north east England swedes are known colloquially as snadgers, snaggers or narkiesno
  • In Wales it is swede or turnip in English, and as maip (Swedaidd), rwden, erfin, swedsen or swejen in Welsh.
  • In Cornwall it is turnip in English, and routabaga in Cornish.
  • In Scotland it is turnip in English, tumshie or neep in Scots, and snèap-Shuaineach (Swedish turnip / neep) in Scottish Gaelic. In parts of Scotland, particularly in the south east, it is baigie
  • In the Isle of Man it is turnip or moot in English, and as napin Soolynagh (Swedish turnip) in Manx.
  • In Ireland it is turnip in English and svaeid in Irish.
  • In Swedish it is kålrot (“cabbage/kale root”)

What other names does this vegetable have?

Sources: Wikipedia, Am Faclair Beag, Gerlyver Kernewek, foclóir.ie, Online Manx Dictionary

5 thoughts on “Root bags

  1. Standard Russian for rutabaga is брюква, from Plattduitsch Wruke. Recorded dialectal names are калига (Novgorod/Pskov, probably from Estonian kaalik “cabbage”), галанка (“Hollandian”, Kostroma), немка (“German”, Yaroslavl), желтуха or землянуха (Archangelsk, “yellow one” or “earthy one”), and some others.

  2. Quite right, Paul! And, furthermore, the correct spelling of the equivalent of ‘Swedish turnip’ is ‘napin Soolynagh’. It can also be ‘napin bwee’ (‘yellow turnip’).

  3. In German, it’s “Steckrübe” (“stick [as in stick into, plant into the ground] turnip”). And apparently, it’s the Vegetable of the Year!

  4. In China, it’s called 芜菁甘蓝(wu2 qing1 gan1 lan1). I’m not sure if it is a right translation since I’ve never seen a rutabaga.

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