gink·go also ging·ko (gĭng’kō)
n. pl. gink·goes also ging·koes A deciduous, dioecious tree (Ginkgo biloba) native to China and having fan-shaped leaves used in herbal medicine. The female plants bear foul-smelling fleshy fruitlike structures containing edible seeds used in East Asian cuisine, while the male plants are often grown as ornamental street trees. Also called maidenhair tree.
[Probably from ginkyō (with graphic confusion of a romanized form of this word leading to the spelling with -kg- in European languages) : Japanese gin, silver (from Middle Chinese in, ultimately from Proto-Sino-Tibetan *ul; akin to Tibetan dngul and Burmese ngwe) + Japanese kyō, apricot, any of several members of the genus Prunus (from Middle Chinese xajŋ`, also the source of Mandarin xìng).]
Word History: The odd spelling of the word ginkgo, which hardly indicates the usual pronunciation (gĭng’kō) very well, results from a botanist's error. In Japanese, the name of the ginkgo tree is written with kanji that can be read as ginkyō. The kanji that is pronounced gin literally means "silver," while the kanji pronounced kyō refers to several fruit-bearing trees of the genus Prunus, including the apricot. The kanji thus make reference to the green fruitlike structures that are borne by the female trees and contain a hard white inner seed covering similar to an apricot pit or pistachio shell. In Modern Japanese, however, these kanji are not read ginkyō but rather ginnan when they refer to the edible seeds and ichō when they refer to the tree itself. This complicated situation helps explain how the name of the tree came to be spelled ginkgo in European languages. The first Western scientist to learn of the existence of the ginkgo tree was Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716), a German physician and naturalist who visited Japan in 1691 and brought some seeds of the ginkgo back to Europe. During his stay in Japan, he also took notes on a Japanese work on botany and added comments on how to pronounce the names of the plants written in kanji. While taking these notes, Kaempfer apparently made a mistake and jotted down that the kanji literally meaning "silver apricot" were to be pronounced ginkgo. Later, he used these notes to prepare a book on the plants of Japan, and his mistake found its way into print. The great Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus perpetuated the error when assigning the scientific name Ginkgo biloba ("the two-lobed ginkgo") to the tree, and the spelling has been fixed ever since.
Ginkgo biloba

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ginkgo — Älterer Ginkgobaum (Ginkgo biloba) Systematik Unterabteilung: Samenpflanzen (Spermatophytina) Klasse …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • ginkgo — [ ʒiŋko ] n. m. • 1846; gingo 1786; mot jap. ♦ Grand arbre originaire d Extrême Orient (ginkgoacées), aux feuilles en éventail, appelé aussi arbre aux écus. ● ginkgo nom masculin (mot japonais) Grand arbre gymnosperme dioïque, qui forme à lui… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • ginkgo — s.m. (bot.) Arbore străvechi originar din China, cu frunzele în evantai, cultivat ca plantă ornamentală. [< fr. ginkgo < cuv. chinez]. Trimis de LauraGellner, 16.04.2005. Sursa: DN  GÍNKGO s. m. arbore ornamental, falnic, din familia… …   Dicționar Român

  • Ginkgo — Gink go, n.; pl. {Ginkgoes}. [Chin., silver fruit.] (Bot.) A large ornamental tree ({Ginkgo biloba}) from China and Japan, belonging to the Yew suborder of {Conifer[ae]}. Its leaves are so like those of some maidenhair ferns, that it is also… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ginkgo — [giŋ′kō; ] also [ giŋk′gō΄] n. pl. ginkgoes [Jpn ginkyo < Sino Jpn gin, silver + kyō, apricot] an Asiatic tree (Ginkgo biloba) with fan shaped leaves and fleshy, yellow, foul smelling seeds enclosing a silvery, edible inner kernel: the only… …   English World dictionary

  • Ginkgo — Kämpf. (Salisburia Sm., Gingkobaum), Gattung der Koniferen mit der einzigen in China und Japan heimischen, aber dort noch nicht wild gefundenen Art G. biloba L. (S. adiantifolia Sm., s. Tafel »Koniferen I«, Fig. 7), einem über 30 m hohen,… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • ginkgo — 1773, from Japanese ginkyo, from Chinese yin hing, from yin silver + hing apricot (Sino Japanese kyo). Introduced to New World 1784 by William Hamilton in his garden near Philadelphia …   Etymology dictionary

  • ginkgo — s. m. Guinkgo biloba. Árbol gimnospermo originario de China y Japón, de hojas caducas en forma de abanico, flores unisexuales y semilla parecida a una drupa …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • ginkgo — (also gingko) ► NOUN (pl. ginkgos or ginkgoes) ▪ a deciduous Chinese tree with fan shaped leaves and yellow flowers. ORIGIN Chinese …   English terms dictionary

  • Ginkgo — Taxobox name = Ginkgo fossil range = fossil range|199.6|0Jurassiccite book | year=1993 | last=Taylor | first=Thomas N. | coauthors=Edith L. Taylor | title=The Biology and Evolution of Fossil Plants | pages=138, 197 | location=Englewood Cliffs, NJ …   Wikipedia

  • ginkgo — /ging koh, jing /, n., pl. ginkgoes. a large shade tree, Ginkgo biloba, native to China, having fan shaped leaves and fleshy seeds with edible kernels: the sole surviving species of the gymnosperm family Ginkgoaceae, which thrived in the Jurassic …   Universalium

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