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A diminutive of pun, a dialectal variant of pound. Punnets, in some places, were used as a measure. The OED says the origin is uncertain - possibly deriving from pun, a regional derivative of pound or from the name of of Reginald Crundall Punnett (1875–1967), a geneticist and grower of strawberries who used to sell them in the London market in a small chip basket.



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 (New Zealand, northern), pottle