Why Are Eggplants Also Called Aubergine?

Have you ever wondered, why are eggplants also called aubergine?

These popular vegetables are well known across America, but why do they get a different name as soon as you step outside the United States? It’s not unusual for some words to change, but there’s a big difference between “eggplant” and “aubergine,” and no obvious reason for this difference!

Eggplants are called aubergines in Europe because it is the French word for this vegetable. When European settlers originally brought the eggplant to the United States, they brought a white version and these egg-shaped, pale vegetables inspired the name “eggplant” because they looked like goose eggs.

Where Does The Word Aubergine Come From?

The word aubergine goes back a long way and has been passed from culture to culture, with slight modifications occurring over time.

Originally, the western Mediterranean word for an aubergine was (al)-bāḏinjān. Through trade, this word began to spread and become bastardized as different countries listened, misheard, and altered the word according to their own language customs.

different cultures

It initially became the Spanish berenjena, and then in Catalan, it was known as albergínia. In Portugal, the word was beringela. It’s easy to see how the different languages influenced the word as the vegetable was spread around the world.

As you can see, the Catalan word is the closest to the word used today, and it is this one that was borrowed and adapted by the French to create “aubergine,” which was then used in British English. 

This spread across the globe, and much of the English-speaking world (and even the non-English speaking world) now uses “aubergine” to refer to this popular vegetable, although there are many other names for it too.

Why Are Eggplants Called Aubergines In Europe?

The word aubergine pre-dates the word eggplant, and eggplants had spread throughout Europe before the term “eggplant” was coined. It, therefore, makes sense that aubergine has remained the default way of referring to this vegetable because the name was already in place and commonly used.

purple vs white eggplant

It’s also possible that “eggplant” failed to catch on in Europe because many varieties of eggplants are purple, not white, and therefore do not look much like eggs. They have rich, dark skins, and although they are an egg-like shape, they aren’t really reminiscent of eggs in other ways.

It is therefore unsurprising that Europeans continue to refer to the eggplant as an aubergine, and this is unlikely to change in the future.

Do Any Other Countries Use The Term Eggplant?

Surprisingly, the term eggplant is often used in Australia, even though Australian English usually correlates more closely with British English than American English. The term “eggplant” is commonly used across Australia, just as it is in North America.

This may be because eggplant sounds more casual and down-to-earth, while aubergine is more challenging and “foreign.” It may also just be a result of trade routes and the way that the plant has spread.

Canada also uses the word eggplant to refer to these vegetables, probably because of its proximity to the USA. Aubergines probably arrived in Canada via US traders, who would have called them eggplants, and given the closeness of these two countries, it is unsurprising that the same term is used.

However, outside of these countries, eggplant isn’t particularly common. It isn’t clear why this word has become so geographically localized, but if you are thinking of traveling abroad, you may need to start referring to an eggplant as an aubergine if you wish to be understood!

Are Aubergines And Eggplants Exactly The Same Thing?

Yes, an aubergine is an eggplant, and an eggplant is an aubergine. These two words refer to the same plants, which belong to the nightshade family. These plants are grown across the world, although they do best in hot, sunny environments.

The fruit of the eggplant is extremely popular, and it may surprise you to learn that it is a large berry. Eggplants are eaten all over the world and have become staples in many countries. They have a rich history and are used in many different recipes because of their velvety texture and their ability to soak up and enhance flavors.

What Else Is An Eggplant Called?

There are several other names for eggplants, even in the English-speaking world. Eggplants are also known as guinea squash, melongene, brinjal, and garden egg. The variety of the names may be due to the way that these vegetables were spread through trade, or may simply be the result of cultural differences.

However, eggplant and aubergine are the commonest ways of referring to these vegetables and will be understood by most people across the world. The other terms are rarer and may not be understood so easily.

What Does An Eggplant Look Like?

Eggplants are usually thought of as being purple, but there are also white varieties, and fruits that are purple and white, such as the graffiti eggplant. Their skin is smooth and glossy and watertight, and they grow on plants that look somewhat like pepper plants.

eggplant

Eggplants are usually white inside, and they have spongy flesh. Their seeds can make them bitter, so sometimes these are removed before cooking, especially if the eggplant has been stored for a while and consequently lost some of its flavors. It may also be necessary to salt the eggplant to pull some of the bitterness out.

These vegetables are particularly striking in terms of their appearance, and they are used in traditional dishes such as ratatouille, eggplant Parmesan, Baba Ganoush, and moussaka. Many other dishes also require eggplant, and it does well in rich sauces, because of the way it absorbs and holds onto flavors.

Eggplants are also often used as a substitute for meat because they have a great texture and a firmness that is often missing among vegetables. Whatever you call them, eggplants are much enjoyed by people everywhere.

Conclusion

Eggplants and aubergines are the same things, and the two different names evolved as trade spread the vegetables across the world. While most of Europe uses aubergine as a result of the original word for this vegetable, Americans call the vegetable eggplant in a nod to its unusual shape and the white versions of this plant.

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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