Where does the word “currant” originate and What does currant mean?

The plants which we grow in our gardens under this name, as well as the berries produced upon them, are really sailing under false colors, for the name currant should never have been given to them.

The real currant is the dried seedless fruit of a certain variety of grapevine; a raisin, that is, but a particular kind of raisin.

The grapevine from which it is produced came originally from Corinth. For that reason the dried fruit from these vines were known, in the thirteenth century, as raisins de Corauntz, raisins of Corinth.

Gradually, the delicacy became known chiefly from its source, and the name of that source, already transformed to Corauntz, passed through many forms, becoming currants in the sixteenth century and settling into currant in the seventeenth.

But the plant which we call “currant” is a bush, not a grapevine.

When this bush was introduced into England in the sixteenth century, it was popularly but erroneously thought to be the source of the fruit that, in dried state, came from the eastern Mediterranean.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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