Tracing the Cucumber by Millie Slavidou

Mom's Favorite Reads

A summer salad including cucumbers is a popular addition to the table, and it seems that this has long been the case; there are references to cucumbers in some of the earliest writing in English. Before you assume, however, that this means the word comes from Old English and a Germanic route, I should point out that there are references to the vegetable in early texts, but not necessarily under the same name.

Let’s start by taking a look at Middle English. We can find a small variety of forms, such as cucomer, cocumer, cucumerber, kikombre and also the familiar-looking cucumber. I have chosen this rather intriguing reference from 1440:

Tak brok grese..& þe leues of cucumerbers. (Take badger fat and the leaves of cucumbers).

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