English Vocabulary: Fruits & Vegetables

“The more colorful the food, the better. I try to add color to my diet, which means vegetables and fruits.”

Misty May-Treanor, a retired American professional beach volleyball player

VEGETABLES

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  1. cauliflower (a head of cauliflower)
  2. broccoli
  3. cabbage
  4. brussels sprouts
  5. watercress
  6. lettuce
  7. escarole
  8. spinach
  9. herbs (our post on herbs and spices is here)
  10. celery
  11. artichoke /ˈɑː(r)tɪˌtʃəʊk/
  12. corn (2 ears of corn; 2 corncobs; 2 cobs of corn)
  13. kidney bean(s)
  14. black bean(s)
  15. string bean(s)
  16. lima bean(s)
  17. pea(s)
  18. pod (pea pod)

IDIOMS

  • I don’t have a bean (British English) – I have no money / I have very little money: I didn’t have a bean during college. 
  • Like two peas in a pod – used for saying that two people look, behave, or think exactly the same: They’re like two peas in a pod, of course they’re married!

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  • 19. tomato(es)
  • 20. cucumber(s)
  • 21. eggplant (aubergine /ˈəʊbə(r)ˌʒiːn/ – British English)
  • 22. pepper(s)
  • 23. potato(es)
  • 24. yam
  • 25. garlic (3 cloves of garlic; 3 garlic cloves)
  • 26. pumpkin
  • 27. zucchini /zʊˈkiːni/ (courgette /kɔː(r)ˈʒet/ – British English)
  • 28. acorn squash
  • 29. radish(es)
  • 30. mushroom(s)
  • 31. onion(s) /ˈʌnjən/
  • 32. carrot(s)
  • 33. beet(s) (beetroot – British English)
  • 34. turnip

IDIOMS

  • hot potato – a sensitive situation or controversial issue that is difficult to handle and thus gets passed from one person to the next: Gun control is a political hot potato. 
  • to turn into a pumpkin – to have to return home or go to bed due to the late hour of the night: I turn into a pumpkin at 9:00. 
  • to spring up like mushrooms – to increase in number suddenly and rapidly: Even though I’m constantly tending to my garden, the weeds just spring up like mushrooms nonetheless. 
  • to know one’s onions (to know one’s stuffAmerican English) – to be very knowledgeable or skilled in some area: When it comes to wedding planning, she really knows her onions.  
  • Carrot and stick – a metaphor for the use of a combination of reward and punishment to induce a desired behavior: The approach must always include both carrot and stick – incentive and punishment.
  • red as a beetroot (red as a beet American English) – blushing, usually from embarrassment: I was red as a beetroot when they made me speak about my problems.
  • to fall off the turnip truck – to be naive, ignorant, unsophisticated: He is behaving as if he just fell off the turnip truck. 

FRUITS, BERRIES & NUTS

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  1. (a bunch of) grapes
  2. apple (a – stem; b – core)
  3. coconut
  4. pineapple
  5. mango
  6. papaya
  7. grapefruit
  8. orange (a – section; b – rind /raɪnd/)
  9. lemon
  10. lime
  11. gooseberries
  12. blackberries
  13. cranberries
  14. blueberries
  15. strawberry
  16. raspberries /ˈrɑːzbəriz/
  17. nectarine /ˈnektəriːn/
  18. pear

IDIOMS

  • an apple never falls far from the treesaid when someone is displaying traits or behaving in the same way as their relatives (especially parents): Mary is as rude as her mother. The apple never falls far from the tree.
  • to mix/compare apples and oranges – to mix/compare two totally different things: You can’t compare your job as a nurse to mine as an engineer—that’s mixing apples and oranges!
  • to hand sb. a lemon – to give/sell something to someone without revealing that the item is not a good as it seems: Considering how often that car breaks down, I think the dealership handed you a lemon.
  • to go pear-shaped (British English) – to fail/fall apart: The whole thing has gone pear-shaped.

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  • 19. cherries
  • 20. (a bunch of) bananas (a – peel/skin)
  • 21. fig
  • 22. prune /pruːn/ (dried plum)
  • 23. date
  • 24. raisin(s)
  • 25. apricot
  • 26. watermelon
  • 27. cashew(s) /ˈkæʃuː/
  • 28. peanut(s)
  • 29. walnut(s)
  • 30. hazelnut(s)
  • 31. almond(s) /ˈɑːmənd/
  • 32. chestnut(s)
  • 33. avocado
  • 34. plum
  • 35. honeydew melon
  • 36. cantaloupe /ˈkæntəluːp/ (a type of melon)
  • 37. peach (a – pit; b – skin)

IDIOMS

  • the cherry on the cake – the final thing that makes something perfect: The fabulous weather on the day was the cherry on the cake.
  • a bowl of cherries – an enjoyable experience: Life is not always a bowl of cherries.
  • to slip on a banana skin/peel – to make a mistake (especially an embarrassing or silly one): Most of the nation would enjoy seeing mighty Manchester United slip on a banana skin in front of millions.
  • cut your peaches – continue what you are doing: There’s no need for you to follow me around. Go cut your peaches.
  • peaches and cream – a very enjoyable experience (usually used to describe something being unrealistically idyllic): Our company had a bit of a rocky start, but everything’s been peaches and cream for the last few months.

FRUIT or FRUITS?

If fruit is used as a countable noun, the plural form fruits is correct. Examples:

  1. I love bananas and other tropical fruits.
  2. My favorite fruits are apples, oranges, and peaches.
  3. Begin to buy whole-grain products and fresh fruits and vegetables.
  4. A meal is usually followed by fresh fruits or sweets.

Fruit can also be an uncountable noun. In this case it means a type of foodnot various kinds of fruit:

  1. Fresh fruit (this type of food) and vegetables provide fiber and vitamins.
  2. Eat plenty of fresh fruit (not fish, not meat but fruit) and vegetables.
  3. She always has a piece of fruit (a fruit) for dessert.
  4. Fresh fruit (the focus is not on any particular kind of fruit but on fruit as a type of food) in the diet may protect against cancer.

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