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

Linguist Rob Watts of RobWords, who shared three useful 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”.