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cucumbers (2)


From Middle English cucumer, cucumber, from Old French cocombre, ultimately from Latin cucumis, cucumerem (possibly through an Old Occitan intermediate). Probably of Pre-Italic substrate origin.


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈkjuːˌkʌmbɚ/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈkjuːˌkʌmbə/
  • (obsolete) IPA(key): /ˈkaʊˌkʌmbɚ/
  • (file)


cucumber (plural cucumbers)

  1. A vine in the gourd family, Cucumis sativus.
    • 1767, A Lady [Hannah Glasse], The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Eaſy [] [1], page 326:
      ASPARAGUS, cauliflowers, imperial Sileſia, royal and cabbage lettuces, burnet, purſlain, cucumbers, naſturtian flowers, peaſe and beans ſown in October, artichokes, ſcarlet ſtrawberries, and kidney beans.
  2. The edible fruit of this plant, having a green rind and crisp white flesh.
    Synonym: (informal) cuke
    • 1785, James Boswell, quoting Samuel Johnson, Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnſon [] [2], London: Henry Baldwin, page 356:
      [] for it has been a common ſaying of phyſicians in England, that a cucumber ſhould be well ſliced, and dreſſed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.
    • 1837, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Ethel Churchill, volume 2, page 14:
      "Why, pepper and salt your reasons!" cried Curl, forgetting to look at the door for a moment: "your pamphlet has talent; but talent is like a cucumber, nothing without the dressing. You must be more personal."
  3. A person who is calm and self-possessed.
    • 1986, Linking Technology and Users, page 41:
      Just a few tips will help even the most anxious of us get a bit of control over the presentation of information and thus appear to be that "cool cucumber" in cognito!
    • 1999, Mark Grantham, The Brewery, page 275:
      The guy's a real cucumber.
    • 2002, Margaret Fisher, Putting on Mock Trials, page 29:
      That Wolf is one cool cucumber.
    • 2018, Derek B. Miller, American By Day, page 65:
      "You're smart," says Irv, pointing at her and nodding his head. "A smart cucumber."

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Further reading[edit]

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of cucumer