Why Some Countries Call the Long Purple Nightshade an Eggplant While Others Use the Word Aubergine

Linguist Rob Watts of RobWords, who shared three valuable tips for translating French into English, explained why some countries describe the long purple nightshade as an eggplant while others refer to it as an aubergine.

Eggplant With chicken egg
photo by Horticulturalist RJ via Wikimedia Commons

As it turns out, this particular fruit truly looks like a hanging egg while growing, hence the term “eggplant”, which is used in the US, Canada, and Australia. The term “aubergine”, which is used in the UK and Ireland, was derived from the Arabic word Al-Badigjan. The term “brinjal” is used in India, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Africa.

I quickly explain why that big purple fruit (and it is a fruit) is called an “eggplant” in the US, Canada and Australia, an “aubergine” in the UK and Ireland and a “brinjal”.

Other countries, of course, have other names for it. In Portuguese, it is a “beringela”, in Italian, it is a “melanzana”, in Russian, it is a “baklazhan”, and in Austria, they call it “melanzani”.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.