Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Crab Apple

Bill from East Bay called to ask where the crab apple got its name. He couldn’t imagine a relationship between a crustacean and a fruit.

As it turns out, there are four separate nouns with the spelling c-r-a-b. Crab1 is the name of the crustacean. It comes from an Old Norse word that meant to scratch or claw. Because of physical resemblance, it is also the name of a sign of the Zodiac and a three-legged frame with tackle for raising heavy weights.

Crab2 comes from a Norse word that meant the fruit of the wild apple tree. There is the implication of smallness, compression, and poor condition. As applied to a person, it means a person with a sour disposition.

Crab3 is a corruption of carap, the name of a South American tree. It produces a nut or seed that is the source of oil used to produce light and also to fight intestinal worms. Versatile would seem to be an appropriate word.

Crab4 is related to crab1, with the original meaning to claw or scratch. It means adverse criticism or objection.

SIDEBAR:  Crab Apple recipes

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