Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A West Indian vine (Cucumis anguria) having prickly mature fruits that are sold as curiosities. The immature fruits are widely used for pickling.
  • n. The fruit of this plant. Also called gooseberry gourd.
  • n. A small cucumber, especially one used for pickling.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small cucumber, often pickled whole.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A kind of small, prickly cucumber, much used for pickles.
  • n. See Sea gherkin.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small-fruited variety of the cucumber, or simply a young green cucumber of an ordinary variety, used for pickling.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of various small cucumbers pickled whole
  • n. small prickly cucumber

Etymologies

Dutch gurken, pl. of gurk, cucumber, short for agurk, possibly from Polish ogorek, perhaps from Late Greek angourion.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From earlier Dutch plural of gurk (="cucumber"), shortened form of East Frisian augurk (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • FLY ON THE WALL also wins the award for "most divinely picklish use of the word gherkin in all of lit'rature!"

    The Undersung Book Awards

  • The name gherkin is applied to small pickling cucumbers.

    Manual of Gardening (Second Edition)

  • The gherkin is a small thick oval-shaped species of cucumber with

    Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches

  • Perhaps I was using 'gherkin' as an adjective, Zod?

    Tony Blair: The Next Labour Prime Minister?

  • The Reichstag dome is powered by vegetable oil, while the Swiss Re building, nicknamed the "gherkin," uses a system of gardens to promote natural ventilation.

    Architects Who Add Sex Appeal

  • Foster's studio, Foster and Partners, is responsible for some of the world's most iconic new buildings, including the Swiss Re headquarters in London (affectionately known as the "gherkin"), the new German Reichstag in Berlin, the Great Court for the British Museum, HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong and London, Commerzbank Headquarters in Frankfurt and the Bilbao metro system.

    The St. Petersburg Times

  • Critics had branded the proposed building a "gherkin", after the famous structure of the same name in London, though it would have shared no resemblance.

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  • She shares that with her friends and I believe the word 'gherkin' might be used. "

    Keck's Exclusives: HIMYM's Robin Gets a Supersized Beau

  • I am doing a arch assignment on the gherkin and was wondering if you could help me with it.

    Wolfram Blog : Twisted Architecture

  • Trying to "ketchup" with consumer demand for healthier foods, H.J. Heinz dropped the gherkin pickle from the condiment's more-than-a-century-old label logo and spruced it up with a tomato on the vine with the slogan "Grown not made."

    Heinz ketchup spruces up label with a tomato

Comments

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  • OED suggests all the way back to Persian angarah.

    June 17, 2010

  • This word came into English via Dutch or German from the Polish word for "cucumber", ogorek.

    June 17, 2010

  • This has to be one of the best words ever created.

    June 16, 2009