October 06, 2007

Where do peanuts come from?

As I was admiring a bunch of peanuts at the farmers' market today, roots and all, I wondered where the name comes from. Why pea? It turns out that it is the nut part that is more questionable. Strictly speaking, the peanut is a legume (derived from Latin legere, "to gather") or a seed in a legume, not a nut.

Pea itself is a back-formation based on pease, which was construed as a plural form. Like peas, peanuts grow in pods.

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