The word coriander was spelled coriandre in Middle French, and that, through Old French, comes from Latin coriandrum, which had the same meaning. That in turn derives from Ancient Greek koriannon, which some think is related to another word, koris, which meant "bedbug" and might be connected because the fruit of the plant smells bad when not ripe. It could also be non-Indo-European, and etymologists aren't really sure. Although coriander may refer to the entire herb, in the United States it generally is associated with the dried seeds, while cilantro encompasses the plants and stems. That word was borrowed in 1907 from Spanish culantro, which traces to coriandrum, which should look familiar. Usage of both the words cilantro and coriander shot up since the 1960s and peaked around the turn of the century.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.