Here's How The Pineapple Got Its Name

Pineapples don't grow on pine trees, and they are definitely not apples. How, then, did this wonderful tropical fruit come by its unique moniker, and why did people call pinecones "pineapples" back in the day?

The word "pineapple" dates back to ye olden days (via Merriam-Webster), and its history seems pretty unusual. If you go back hundreds of years and spend time with a few medieval botanists, you might find that when they came across a new fruit on a tree that resembled an apple at all, in any way, shape, or form, they used the word "apple" — and a new fruity word was born. 

That's how the pinecone got its first name, in fact — the pinecone is the fruit of the pine tree, so they were actually called "pineapples" first (this usage dates back to the 14th century). You wouldn't find anyone calling a pinecone a "pinecone" back then, which is probably blowing your mind right now. 

This is not unique to the pineapple (or pinecone), by the way. There are dozens of other fruits that have "apple" somewhere in their name, or in their name's history, such as the Latin name for peach — it's persicum, which means "Persian apple," and the Latin name for pomegranate (pōmum grānātum), which means "an apple with many seeds."

A pinecone only became known as a pinecone in the middle of the 16th century when the English language adapted a Greek word, kōnos, and applied it to the fruit of the pine and fir tree. Eventually (a few hundred years later) everyone knew it was a pinecone, and would probably think you were being weird if you continued to call it a pineapple.

As far as the tropical fruit goes, it is likely that explorers to the new world encountered the fruits and dubbed them pineapples due to the old tradition of calling newly-discovered fruits "apples." Captain John Smith might have been the first to record the word "pineapple" in 1624. Perhaps he thought they resembled pinecones, which they somewhat do — until you chop them open and enjoy the delectable fruit within.