Alligator Pear

By Eric Abrahamsen, published

I'd always assumed that one of the Chinese words for avocado – 鳄梨, or "alligator pear" – was something made up by Chinese wordsmiths who were coming into contact with the funny fruit for the first time. Now, after reading an article on the Washington Post about restaurant menus in the US from a hundred years ago, I learn that "alligator pear" was something made up by… US wordsmiths who were coming into contact with the funny fruit for the first time. Who knew!?

Now can someone tell me the origins of 牛油果?

Edit: And I spelled wrong...


# 1.   






  • 这位爷,也没有。馒头包子得等到蜀汉诸葛丞相伐孟获才有,抱歉了您呢。



  • 要死了那就来个大侠套餐吧,二两女儿红,半斤熟牛肉……你捂我嘴干吗

  • 客官,小点声朝廷严禁私宰耕牛,被人告了可是充军流放的大罪,万万不敢啊

  • 得得得,酒我也不喝了,茶水总有吧

  • 那玩意儿到汉朝才有,哪怕到唐朝也是士大夫喝的,咱也不可能有。



  • 没有西瓜,苹果总有吧



  • 你他娘的店里到底有什么

  • 粟米的窝窝饼,您蘸肉酱吃,我还可以给您上烫白菜。


Susan, January 29, 2016, 9:11p.m.

# 2.   

To my ears, 牛油果 sounds Cantonese. Mind you, I only speak baby talk in this dialect, so I'm no expert!

But 牛油 does mean butter in Cantonese.

If you google butter fruit, you'll find several references to avocados. Here's Wikipedia's note (avocado):

In the United Kingdom, the term "avocado pear" is still used as applied when avocados first became commonly available in the 1960s.It is known as "butter fruit" in parts of India and goes by the name "bơ" [ɓʌː] in Vietnamese, which is the same word that is used for butter. In eastern China, it is known as è lí ("alligator pear") or huángyóu guǒ ("butter fruit"). In Taiwan, it is known as luò lí or "cheese pear".

Bruce Humes, January 30, 2016, 1:06p.m.

# 3.   

I have lived in Hong Kong for two years and yes! 牛油 means butter. In a typical HongKong-style restaurant, there are 牛油方包 which is buttered toast and 牛油蛋挞 which means egg tart with buttered flavor and even 牛油蛋卷 which is butter-flavored crispy egg roll.

Vivian Wang, February 1, 2016, 6:04a.m.

# 4.   

Hey, that's cool! It's one of those mysteries that has bugged me very slightly for years. Thanks for clearing it up for me :)

Eric Abrahamsen, February 3, 2016, 4:54a.m.

# 5.   


Lao Zhang, February 5, 2016, 8:43a.m.

# 6.   


Eric Abrahamsen, February 5, 2016, 9:15a.m.


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