What would kiwi be in Latin? Both the bird and the fruit. I guess there's no actual word because I don't think they had kiwis, but what would you guess it to be if you had to use it?

  • 3
    Welcome to the site! Are you wondering what an ancient Roman might have called kiwis if they'd been introduced by an exotic foreign merchant, or what a mediaeval philosopher might have called them, or what a modern-day author might call them?
    – Draconis
    Jun 9 '20 at 2:07
  • Hi Kiwi! I have closed this question because you have not edited your question in response to comments requesting clarification. Please edit the question to answer the question @Draconis asks and explain what you are looking for. The question can be reopened if you edit to clarify it.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 11 '20 at 13:03

For the fruit, before the kiwifruit was rebranded as the kiwifruit by New Zealand growers in the '60s and '70s it was called the Chinese gooseberry, because it's from China and tastes like gooseberries.

I'm not aware of a classical term for gooseberry (there surely must have been one, but I can't find it), but in New Latin there's grossullus < French groseille < MDutch kroesel = kruisbes (the double s is a result of confusion with the diminutive of grossus 'unripe fig'). Alternatively, you could just use bāca 'berry'.

The Romans had two terms for the Chinese: Sīnae and Seres. The latter effectively referred to the Chinese reachable by the overland Silk Route, the former to those reachable by sea. If the Romans had known the kiwifruit it probably would have come to them by sea, so we need the former. The adjective is sinica or Sinēnsis.

I would go with either grossullus Sinēnsis (which feels more New Latin to me) or bāca sinica (if you want to be more classical).


Apteryx is the scientific name for a kiwi

  • But what would the Romans say?
    – Kiwi
    Jun 9 '20 at 0:31
  • 2
    @Kiwi Can you please edit your question to make your goal more specific? See the comment under your question. Are you only looking for a word that a Roman might use, or something else?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 9 '20 at 6:48

Perhaps "Pomus Aliena." "Foreign Fruit." And "Avis Alienus/Aliena." "Foreign Bird." If one had no one to explain it to them, this would likely be their first instinct.

If a foreign merchant were to display one of these things, he might tell you that it is a "Kivi" or "Civi" from Nova Zeelandia. They weren't averse to just Romanizing foreign words.

The other possibility, that they would come up with an entirely Roman moniker, is unlikely but possible. If this is the sort of question you're asking, you might get better results appealing to the chat for this stack exchange: https://chat.stackexchange.com/?tab=site&host=latin.stackexchange.com

  • I think your answer provides a way of referring to a kiwi bird/fruit, but not a name. In this case, "pomum alienum" would be quite ambiguous without context.
    – brianpck
    Jun 9 '20 at 1:06
  • I favor the borrowing and latinization the best; it feels to me the most like what might actually happen if a trader or merchant brought kiwi fruit or birds to Rome and verbally told people, "this is kiwi". Using the K has the benefit of preserving more of the original spelling but reducing the chances of mistaking it for declensions of other words.
    – Adam
    Jun 9 '20 at 3:16

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.