From Middle Dutch *āerdappel (“cucumber, pumpkin”), equivalent to aarde (“soil, earth, ground”) + appel (“apple”), cognate with Middle Low German erdappel (modern Low German Erdappel), Old High German erdapful (“pumpkin, squash, melon”) (modern German Erdapfel (“potato”)), West Frisian ierappel (“potato”), Old English eorþæppel (“cucumber”) (rare modern English earthapple (“potato”)), Danish jordæble. Compare also French pomme de terre (“potato”), Luxembourgish Gromper (“potato”, literally “ground pear”), regional German Grundbirne (“ground pear”).
In the 16th and 17th centuries, used for various tubers and fruits that grow in or near the soil. Modern sense spread in the 18th century.
- Although the more common plural of appel is appels, not appelen, the more common plural of aardappel is aardappelen (at least in written style).