We get our word cantaloupe from the French, from back in 1739 when we borrowed the word cantaloup to describe that succulent, newly discovered melon. Before that, the French got cantaloup from the villa of Cantalupo, a Roman papal estate located in the Sabina region not far from Rome. Why the papal estate? Well, he got the first of everything, including the first cantaloupes the Italians traded from the Armenians. This particular pope, Paul II, was so enamored by the fruit that he ate it every day, and even died after consuming two such melons. As for the estate itself, the noun Cantalupo is theorized to be a portmanteau of cantere, or "to sing", and lupus, or "wolf". Both from Proto-Italic, respectively they go back to Proto-Indo-European kehn (still "sing") and wlkwos (still "wolf"), and the place was probably named after singing wolves because they ringed the hills in the countryside every night and howled. Disclaimer: this may or may not be a folk etymology, but a real one is unconfirmed, so let's not ruin our fun!
Adam Aleksic is a 220-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