AskDefine | Define berry

Dictionary Definition



1 any of numerous small and pulpy edible fruits; used as desserts or in making jams and jellies and preserves
2 a small fruit having any of various structures, e.g., simple (grape or blueberry) or aggregate (blackberry or raspberry)
3 United States rock singer (born in 1931) [syn: Chuck Berry, Charles Edward Berry] v : pick or gather berries; "We went berrying in the summer" [also: berried]

User Contributed Dictionary



Old English beriġe, from Germanic *basjon (apparently ‘grape’), of unknown ultimate origin. Cognate with Dutch bes, German Beere.


  • /ˈbɛri/
  • , /"bEri/
    Homophones: bury
  • Rhymes: -ɛri


  1. A small fruit, of any one of many varieties.
  2. A soft fruit which develops from a superior ovary and contains seeds not encased in pits.

Derived terms

A small fruit
  • Chinese:
  • Dutch: bes
  • Esperanto: bero
  • Finnish: marja
  • French: baie
  • German: Beere
  • Hebrew: גרגר /gargar/
  • Interlingua: baca
  • Italian: bacca, coccola
  • Japanese: ベリー
  • Korean: 딸기 (ttalgi), 장과 (漿, janggwa)
  • Latin: baca
  • Latvian: oga
  • Lithuanian: uoga
  • Polish: jagoda
  • Portuguese: baga
  • Russian: ягода
  • Scottish Gaelic: dearc(ag) , sùbh , sùgh
  • Slovene: jagoda
  • Spanish: baya
  • Swedish: bär
A soft fruit which develops from a superior ovary and contains seeds not encased in pits


  1. To pick berries.
    On summer days Grandma used to take us berrying, whether we wanted to or not.

Usage notes

  • Unlikely to be used to refer to commercial harvest of berries.

Extensive Definition

about the fruit
The word berry has two meanings: one based on a botanical definition, the other on common identification. True berries are a simple fruit having seeds and edible pulp produced from a single ovary. In common parlance, however, berries are more broadly recognized as small, round or semi-oblong, usually brightly colored, sweet or sour fruit desirable in a healthy diet.

True berries

In botany, the berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. The flowers of these plants have a superior ovary and one or more carpels within a thin covering and fleshy interiors. The seeds are embedded in the common flesh of the ovary. Examples of botanical berries include the tomato, grape, lychee, loquat, lucuma, plantain, avocado, persimmon, eggplant, guava, uchuva (ground cherry), and chili pepper.

Modified berries

The fruit of citrus, such as the orange, kumquat and lemon, is a modified berry called a hesperidium.
The fruit of cucumbers and their relatives are modified berries called "pepoes". A plant that bears berries is referred to as bacciferous.
True berries are distinguishable from false berries like blueberries and cranberries for which the fruit is formed from other parts of the flower, not just the ovary. Also not true berries, aggregate fruits like raspberries are collections of small fruits, and accessory fruits like strawberries are formed from parts of the plant other than the flower. As explained below, none of these is a true berry.

Common usage

In common parlance, berry refers to any small, sweet, juicy and brightly-colored fruit. By contrasting in color with their background, berries are more attractive to animals that eat them, aiding in the dispersal of the plant's seeds. Most berries are edible, but some are poisonous.
Berry colors are due to natural pigments synthesized by the plant. Medical research has uncovered medicinal properties of pigmented polyphenols, such as flavonoids, anthocyanins, and tannins and other phytochemicals localized mainly in berry skins and seeds. Berry pigments are usually antioxidants and thus have oxygen radical absorbance capacity ("ORAC") that is high among plant foods. Together with good nutrient content, ORAC distinguishes several berries within a new category of functional foods called "superfruits", a rapidly-growing multi-billion dollar industry that began in 2005 and is identified by DataMonitor as one of the top 10 food categories for growth in 2008.
A 2007 report combined four criteria — nutrient content, antioxidant qualities, medical research intensity and commercial success — giving an approximate rank of commercial activity for six exotic superfruits, including three berries — wolfberry, sea buckthorn and açaí — as the highest rated.

Not a botanical berry

Many "berries" are not actual berries by the scientific definition, but fall into one of these categories:

External links

berry in Min Nan: Chiuⁿ-kó
berry in Breton: Hugenn
berry in Catalan: Baia
berry in Czech: Bobule
berry in Danish: Bær
berry in German: Beere
berry in Modern Greek (1453-): Μούρο
berry in Spanish: Baya
berry in Esperanto: Bero
berry in French: Baie (botanique)
berry in Ido: Bero
berry in Italian: Bacca
berry in Hebrew: פירות יער
berry in Pampanga: Berry
berry in Georgian: კენკრა
berry in Lithuanian: Uoga
berry in Dutch: Bes (botanisch)
berry in Japanese: ベリー
berry in Norwegian: Bær
berry in Norwegian Nynorsk: Bær
berry in Narom: Chérîthe
berry in Polish: Jagoda (botanika)
berry in Portuguese: Baga
berry in Romanian: Bacă
berry in Russian: Ягода
berry in Simple English: Berry
berry in Finnish: Marja
berry in Swedish: Bär (botanik)
berry in Ukrainian: Ягода
berry in Chinese: 浆果

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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