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

  • n. Any of various plants of the genus Plantago that produce dense spikes of small greenish flowers, especially either of two Eurasian weeds, P. major or P. lanceolata. Also called ribwort.
  • n. A large, tropical, treelike herb (Musa paradisiaca) of southeast Asia, resembling the banana and bearing similar fruit.
  • n. The fruit of this plant, used as a staple food in tropical regions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A plant of the genus Plantago, with a rosette of sessile leaves about 10 cm long with a narrow part instead of a petiole, and with a spike inflorescence with the flower spacing varying widely among the species. See also psyllium.
  • n. A plant in the genus Musa, the genus that includes banana, but with lower sugar content than banana.
  • n. The fruit of the plant, usually cooked before eating and used like potatoes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A treelike perennial herb (Musa paradisiaca) of tropical regions, bearing immense leaves and large clusters of the fruits called plantains. See musa.
  • n. The fruit of this plant. It is long and somewhat cylindrical, slightly curved, and, when ripe, soft, fleshy, and covered with a thick but tender yellowish skin. The plantain is a staple article of food in most tropical countries, especially when cooked.
  • n. Any plant of the genus Plantago, but especially the Plantago major, a low herb with broad spreading radical leaves, and slender spikes of minute flowers. It is a native of Europe, but now found near the abode of civilized man in nearly all parts of the world.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A plant of the genus Plantago, especially P. major, the common or greater plantain.
  • n. A tropical plant, Musa paradisaca or its fruit.
  • n. Plantago aristata, a species with very narrow leaves and long narrow bracts, native mostly west of the Mississippi but now a common weed eastward from Maine to Georgia.

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

  • n. starchy banana-like fruit; eaten (always cooked) as a staple vegetable throughout the tropics
  • n. a banana tree bearing hanging clusters of edible angular greenish starchy fruits; tropics and subtropics
  • n. any of numerous plants of the genus Plantago; mostly small roadside or dooryard weeds with elliptic leaves and small spikes of very small flowers; seeds of some used medicinally


Middle English, from Old French, from Latin plantāgō, plantāgin-, from planta, sole of the foot (from its broad leaves); see plat- in Indo-European roots.
Spanish plátano, plántano, plane tree, plantain, from Latin platanus; see plane4.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman plainteine et al., Old French plaintain, from Latin plantaginem ("plantain"), accusative of plantāgō, from planta ("sole"), because of the broad, flat shape of the plantain leaves. (Wiktionary)
From Spanish plantano, obsolete variant of plátano, from Galibi Carib platana ("banana"). (Wiktionary)



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