ROX Vocab

raspberry

 

Word: "raspberry"

Short Definition:

a small, juicy fruit; a sound of derision

Long Definition:

I'm sure that everybody is familiar with this fruit. Actually, it's an aggregate fruit. Each raspberry is a bundle of little drupelets. Its distinctive shape is an inspiration to milliners and purple-clad pop singers alike. It's very tasty, too.

But a raspberry can also be something quite different. Stick your tongue out between your lips and blow, hard. Hear that wonderfully flatulent sound? It's used to ridicule, to heckle, to demonstrate contempt or scorn — at least in American culture. In some far-flung corner of the globe it probably means “Welcome!” or “Will you marry my daughter?”

(The raspberry is also known as the “Bronx cheer.” I wonder how the people of the Bronx feel about that?)

How on earth did this innocent fruit come to be associated with such a mean-spirited display of derision? It came by way of the old Cockney rhyming slang, wherein the term “raspberry tart” stood for — you guessed it — fart.

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Created: November 18th, 2003
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