July 30, 2014
rutabaga (noun)
\roo-tuh-BAY-guh\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a turnip with a very large yellowish root
How do you use it?
The rutabaga is a member of the mustard family, a large group of plants that includes turnips, cabbages, kohlrabi, broccoli, and cauliflower, among others.
Are you a word wiz?

We hope you won't have to dig too deeply to come up with the answer to today's question. What language do you think gave us "rutabaga"?

Answer A gets to the root of the matter. The rutabaga, a cool weather crop, gets its name from the language of snowy Sweden. "Rutabaga" comes from "rotabagge," a Swedish dialect word, which comes from "rot," meaning "root," and "bagge," meaning "bag." "Rutabaga" first appeared in English in the late 1700s, about 200 years later than the word "turnip." "Kohlrabi" is the name of another relative of the rutabaga. English took "kohlrabi" directly from German, but the German word "kohlrabi" came from Italian. The Italian name for the vegetable is "cavolo rapa," from "cavolo" ("cabbage") and "rapa" ("turnip"). "Kohlrabi" first appeared in English in the early 1800s.
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