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Origin uncertain. First appears in the 1820s. Perhaps a diminutive of pun, a dialect variant of pound, the weight + -et. The suggestion that it is an eponym of Reginald Crundall Punnett (1875–1967), geneticist and grower of strawberries, is not chronologically possible. The suggestion it was an ancestor of his lacks evidence.



punnet (plural punnets)

  1. (Britain, Australia, New Zealand) A small basket or receptacle for collecting and selling fruit, particularly strawberries.
    • 1904, Arthur George Liddon Rogers, The Business Side of Agriculture, 2010, Forgotten Books, page 85:
      Thus, according to the same Year-Book, a sea-kale punnet measures 8 in. in diameter at the top and 7½ in. at the bottom, being 2 in. deep, while a radish punnet is 8 in. in diameter and 1 in. deep, if to hold six “hands,” or 9 in. by 1 in. for twelve “hands.” A mushroom punnet is 7 in. by 1 in., while a salading punnet is 5 in. by 2 in.
    • 1917, Stevenson Whitcomb Fletcher, The Strawberry in North America: History, Origin, Botany, and Breeding, pages 77-78:
      Another type of splint basket, called a punnet, was used in the strawberry trade of New York City between 1815 and 1850. [] Punnets and pottles found little favor except in the vicinity of Boston and New York and were soon discarded for more convenient and less expensive packages.
    • 1933, South Australian Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Journal of Agriculture, South Australia, Volume 36, page 1292:
      Most of the fruit for market is picked and sold in punnets, but for jam making buckets are used, similar to the raspberry bucket.
    • 1982, New Zealand Department of Agriculture, New Zealand journal of agriculture, page 13:
      Early this season, Ross Lill got together with a plastics firm to produce a flat tray to replace the commonly used punnet.
    • 2005, Don Burke, The Complete Burke's Backyard: The Ultimate Book of Fact Sheets, page 408:
      However we recommend, particularly in cooler climates, sowing tomato seeds into a seed tray or punnet and allowing the seedlings to grow before they are transplanted into the garden.
    • 2007 May 13, Amelia Hill, The Guardian, Forget superfoods, you can′t beat an apple a day:
      ‘But rather than spend £5 on a small punnet of exotic berries, a family would be better off buying regular and larger quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables from their local market. []


  • (receptacle for strawberries): chip (northern New Zealand), pottle (British, southern New Zealand)