a. A small cucumber, especially one used for pickling.
b. A pickle made from such a fruit.
a. A vine (Cucumis anguria) native to Africa and widely cultivated especially in the West Indies, having prickly fruit often harvested when immature for pickling.
b. The fruit of this plant.
[Ultimately (via early Modern Dutch gurkijn (Modern Dutch gurkje), diminutive of Dutch gurk, gherkin, aphetic variant of agurk, or possibly via Dutch agurken, plural of agurk, taken in English as a singular a gurken) from Dutch agurk, variant of augurk, ultimately from a Slavic source such as Polish ogórek, partial translation (with diminutive suffix -ek) of Byzantine Greek angourion, watermelon, gherkin, from diminutive of Late Greek angouros, a single grape, bunch of grapes, probably originally meaning "small, unripe fruit," from expressive alteration of Greek aōros, out of season, unripe : A-, not; see A-1 + hōra, season, time; see yēr- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.