Is there an English word or phrase that describes the category of fruits that are not vegetables, i.e., that are sweet and mostly used as dessert? For example, apples and berries should be included, but tomatoes and bell peppers not.

In German, this is called Obst, in Spanish it is fruta. This article describes the difference to the English word fruit quite well. But I did not find any statement if there is or has been an English word for it.

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    How any particular plant or plant part is classified is highly dependent on culture and context. The same chef may refer to corn (maize) as both a cereal and as a vegetable, depending on how it is used. So what is considered fruit will depend on whether you want a meaning that is culinary, botanical, commercial, and so on.
    – choster
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 14:50
  • Are you sure you want to propagate that vague use of the word “vegetable”? You mean fruit bodies which are sweet or sour but not savory, not woody or fibrous, and often succulent. Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 1:37

2 Answers 2


It's actually the same in English. Unless you're talking to a botanist, it's a non-issue.

Fruit (MWD)

a dish, quantity, or diet of fruits live on fruit

See also

Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

As far as cooking is concerned, some things which are strictly fruits, such as tomatoes or bean pods, may be called 'vegetables' because they are used in savoury rather than sweet cooking.

Or in the words of Miles Kington

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

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    cf. a related question: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/34984/…
    – user227547
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 15:10
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    ...and on Seasoned Advice cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/73396/…
    – 0xFEE1DEAD
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 15:20
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    @Palizsche Thanks, that link did actually answer my question: the term seems to be "culinary fruit" (in contrast to the biological fruit). The fact that the former is not well-defined does not explain why there is no term for it; on the contrary, without a term this wikipedia section could not have a proper heading
    – Yogu
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 15:39
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    @Yogu But English is very accommodating of loanwords, a leitmotif we can noodle on at the kaffeeklatsch over the ersatz pumpernickel my doppelgänger schlepped from the delicatessen in my cobalt rucksack. Speak it with a little sprachgefϋhl and no one will question it after a while.
    – choster
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 16:42
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    This is all so the wrong way around! I still remember when “fruit” meant the culinary meaning, and using it in other ways was reserved for botanists (like my mom) talking to each other. Then, a few years ago, suddenly there were people attacking others over how “wrong” that was, and that the tomato was actually a fruit and such. I suspect for the purpose of snobbery, to raise themselves above others. Now, it seems we’re at the cringey point, where people actually believe that the biological meaning is the default one, even though that is rarely practical, let alone sensible in daily life
    – anon
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 18:10

I think one can use the term culinary fruit to distinguish it from the botanical fruit term.

See, for example, this question on cooking.se (thanks 0xFEE1DEAD), this question on biology.se (thanks @Palitschke) or this diagram which explains the difference between culinary and botanical terms:

enter link description here (Taken from the Wikipedia Fruit article).

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    And for the converse, a biological vegetable that is a culinary fruit: rhubarb. Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 21:29

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