Did you know the humble zucchini is actually a kind of squash? True. So it will come as no surprise to you when you find out that, in Italian as the word zucchino, the word zucchini meant "squash". This derives from zucca, which was a simpler manner of saying "gourd" or "squash", and which is thought to come in turn from the Latin word cucurbita, which also meant "gourd" in general. Now, while the origin for this is officially unknown, many etymologists theorize that it comes from cucumis, meaning "cucumber" (and, yes, the etymon of our word for cucumber, through Old French cocombre). This has cognates in both Greek and Sanskrit, but because the word is so weird overall, the prevailing theory is that the word may not be of an Indo-European language, possibly having come from a pre-Mediterranean tongue or one of the Semitic languages.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd