why dehydrated grapes and plums are called raisins and prunes, respectively, but we don’t name other dehydrated fruits different from their original names?

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Where did the naming convention come from for these two fruits and why isn’t it applied to others?

Edit: this simple question has garnered far more attention than I thought it would. The bottom line is some English royals and French peasants used their own words for the same thing but used their respective versions for the crop vs the product. Very interesting. Also, I learned other languages have similar occurrences that don’t translate into English. Very cool.

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25 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Yeah, I get momentarily confused when I see fresh grapes at the store and in small print it says raisins on them, so I assumed raisin is French for grape.

Anonymous 0 Comments

We have same thing in Ukrainian. For example dried apricot is kuraga, dried grapes are rodzynky, plums (specific ones) chornoslyv, but there are no dedicated words to dried cherries, pears and other fruits and berries.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Prunes are dehydrated plums?!? It took me 40 years on this planet to find that out? WTF!?!

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I love it when this happens. My mind has been blown.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Weirdly, the dehydrated names are both the french names for the fresh fruits.

There is probably something there…

Anonymous 0 Comments

I like how you chose this sub instead of r/NoStupidQuestions because you would otherwise have to brace yourself against a flurry of highly technical information or something.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Grapes and plums could not be imported fresh to England, because they needed to be transported by boats over long durations.

So French exporters would dry their fruit before sending them over, and label them “raisin” and “prunes”, which are just the French words for grapes and plums.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are other names. I don’t know about English but dried ginger is called “saunth” in Hindi.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Grapes and plums have been dried and preserved for thousands of years, long before many other fruits were commonly dehydrated. Over time, these dried fruits became staple foods with their own names.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s usually when two words from different languages are used at the same time, eventually they become more specific. This happens more often as a result of migration/invasion as opposed to more peaceful means of cultural exchange. The meat example is usually the most cited example but my favourite is Bow and Arrow. Both words mean bow, arrow deriving from arcus, bow from Boga I think. When you have two languages co existing, using both words wouldn’t be uncommon. Eventually arcus came to refer to the projectiles and boga the actual bow.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s usually when two words from different languages are used at the same time, eventually they become more specific. This happens more often as a result of migration/invasion as opposed to more peaceful means of cultural exchange. The meat example is usually the most cited example but my favourite is Bow and Arrow. Both words mean bow, arrow deriving from arco, bow from Boden I think. When you have two languages co existing, using both words wouldn’t be uncommon. Eventually arco came to refer to the projectiles and boden the actual bow.