greengage

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English[edit]

Greengages.jpg

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Synchronically green +‎ gage; however this is the original. The legend goes that Sir William Gage, 2nd Baronet of Hengrave, (c. 1656–1727), had a shipment of plums from France, in which the labels of the reine-claude got lost, by which reason his gardener called it after his master. Horticulturist Peter Collinson reports in his notes edited by L. W. Dillwyn in 1843, page 60: I was on a visit to Sir William Gage, at Hengrave, near Bury; he was then near 70; he told me that he first brought over, from France, the Grosse reine Claude, and introduced it into England, and in compliment to him the Plum was called the Green Gage; this was about the year 1725. Contrary to the common story however here the French name is known to the baronet, and it could consequentially completely be a running joke, in that he exploited a coincidental likeness of his name to an unrelated plant name to become part of history. An older term denoting the very same plum cultivar, which ultimately derives from the Near East, via the Sublime Porte under Kanuni Süleyman, is found in Persian گوجه سبز(gowje sabz)

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈɡɹiːnɡeɪdʒ/

Noun[edit]

greengage (plural greengages)

  1. A plum cultivar with greenish-yellow flesh and skin, Prunus domestica subsp. italica var. claudiana.
    Hypernym: gage
    • 1834, John Forbes, “Sketch of the Medical Topography of the Hundred of Penwith”, in Transactions of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association, volume 2, page 66:
      The apricot rarely produces any fruit, except in a few places, and then very scantily. The greengage plum is nearly equally unproductive.
    • 1913, D. H. Lawrence, chapter 5, in Sons and Lovers:
      Just where the horse trams trundled across the market was a row of fruit stalls, with fruit blazing in the sun—apples and piles of reddish oranges, small greengage plums and bananas.

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