This morning I found one avocado I bought had become over-ripe: part of its edible part had changed color and was no longer green. So I was trying to describe this to my friend and I wanted to say "Hey I wanted to make some smoothie with this avocado but I found it over-ripe and part of its ____ has changed color."

I wanted to find a word to fill in the blank. I speak Chinese and in Chinese we call the edible part "fruit flesh". I'm wondering what the English word is.

A quick googling gave me the word "pulp", but it looks like "fruit pulp" is created by processing the "fruit flesh" and it's not the "flesh" itself.

  • 3
    Probably a duplicate, in spirit at least: Can I use the word 'flesh' when referring to plants, crops?. Sep 18, 2021 at 18:31
  • 2
    Why say “changed color” and not the idiomatic “turned brown”. In fact saying “changed color” makes me think it was some other color besides brown although I have no idea what other color it could turn. Maybe “black” if it had been way too long?
    – Jim
    Sep 19, 2021 at 6:30
  • 1
    Note that the whole last clause here (‘part of it’s _____ has changed color’) could arguably be replaced with ‘rotten’ (if it’s actually rotted due to being over-ripe) ‘oxidized’ (if it’s just been exposed to air), or ‘discolored’ (a common generic term for what you are describing). Any of those three cases would sound much more natural to me (as a native AmE speaker from the north central US Midwest). Sep 19, 2021 at 15:57
  • 2
    Just FYI the rind of fruits is usually edible too; some societies are just conditioned not to eat/like it.
    – TylerH
    Sep 20, 2021 at 13:21
  • 1
    Not an answer to the question, but I would guess that the most idiomatic way to complete that sentence is to leave the blank blank. "I wanted to make some smoothie with this avocado but, it's overripe. Part of it has turned brown." We don't care about the color of the avocado peel, so "turned brown" would only ever refer to the inside of the avocado.
    – Juhasz
    Sep 21, 2021 at 21:17

7 Answers 7


As the post suggests it can be called the


1.2 The edible pulpy part of a fruit or vegetable.
halve the avocados and scrape out the flesh

Calling it 'pulpy' doesn't mean it has been squashed. It means the soft part that isn't the skin/rind or pips/stone.

You don't have to call it 'fruit flesh', just 'flesh' will do when the fruit has already been mentioned.

Hey I wanted to make some smoothie with this avocado but I found it over-ripe and part of its flesh has changed color.

From Lexico.

  • 2
    On other flesh, other meats: Belinda ate coconut meat off the shell. The meat of a plum. Cut one-third cup pecan nut meats in pieces. Arrange on a bed of romaine, pour over dressing, and garnish with strip of red pepper. They snacked on the pale yellow meat of the gru-gru berry.
    – tchrist
    Sep 18, 2021 at 18:26
  • 4
    @tchrist That's very old usage though, and no-one alive today would use that. If the OP intended to read recipes from the 1700s then sure, but not for talking to someone else today
    – Graham
    Sep 19, 2021 at 8:27
  • 10
    @Graham You're many centuries too early. People still refer to nut meats.
    – tchrist
    Sep 19, 2021 at 13:05
  • 3
    @Graham It’s rare in certain dialects, but usage is not purely anachronistic as you seem to imply. Part of the rarity is the fact that most people these days (at least in the US) use the name of the fruit or nut by itself to specifically refer to the edible parts, so there’s not much call for this type of usage to begin with. Sep 19, 2021 at 15:52
  • 2
    @tchrist I have never (in UK) heard of nut meat (or even flesh), but kernel or its plural. But coconut meat, yes (a coconut isn't a true nut). Sep 19, 2021 at 18:06

Deep question. More so than what it appeared to be on first look. I didn't realise English lacks a word for the edible part of a fruit that covers all cases, but it is more contextual than I expected. This means it assumes an understanding of what parts of fruit are edible whenever we are writing or speaking about it - which makes the conventions somewhat non-inclusive.

Scientifically, you are generally describing damage to what is considered to be the Mesocarp of a fruit. Thats meaningless to most since it is not a general-use term, but I will use it going forward to refer to the specific structure.

More broadly you may be referring to the pericarp; though that is used to describe anything between and including the shell of the seed to the skin of the fruit, and is not useful in the case of an avocado where only the mesocarp is eaten.

Since the skin of some fruit can show a bruise, this may be useful in those cases. Even though it is at once more inclusive of structures that show a bruise and more ambiguous (since it includes one structure that will not bruise) than the use of mesocarp. In that case, though, we will refer to what we see on the skin as being the fruit, even when the skin is not edible; "the banana is bruised" or "the apple is bruised". So,if the exocarp is showing a bruise, it is usually safe to assume that the mesocarp is also bruised.

However in the case you used; avocadoes have the problem where the edible portion; the mesocarp, can have a bruise without showing evidence on the inedible skin; the exocarp, which is the cause of your frustration.

Since fruit covers a broad range of structures, even within the same family perhaps fruit flesh may be the best general-purpose phrasing, or just "flesh".

Though that is clearly a semantically overloaded word, the issue can be somewhat corrected by naming the fruit, eg "avocado flesh", though nobody would say "apple flesh" or "strawberry flesh".

This may be because the skin of those other fruits is frequently eaten, whereas only the giant tree sloth would eat the skin of an avocado, and they are sadly extinct and cannot contribute their experience to this question.

Perhaps the mesocarp of a fruit is only considered "flesh" in cases where the skin, or exocarp, is not commonly eaten; eg. "avocado flesh" "watermelon flesh" "orange flesh".

So I would suggest that you could say something like "The avocado flesh turned out to be bruised, but you did not know beforehand because the skin does not show a bruise."

I think this is weak due to convention, and I do not generally hear people describing the mesocarp of those fruits in that way. So it is not common phrasing (at least where I am) and will probably sound a little odd to many people, but they will know what you mean.

By convention, it seems to be more common that in fruits with an inedible rind or skin, the name of the fruit serves double-duty when referring to only the edible portion.

eg. "Hey I wanted to make some smoothie with this avocado (contextually, the entire fruit) but I found it over-ripe and part of the avocado (contextually, the flesh) has changed color." - though in the second usage, you would likely use the word "it".

For additional interest - the structures of a fruit, even within the same family of plants, can be expressions of different parts of the flower after pollination, so this cannot be assumed. - http://fruitandnuteducation.ucdavis.edu/generaltopics/AnatomyPollination/Fruit_Anatomy/

A reference I found only after I had written my reply above may be of interest to you: http://www.ucavo.ucr.edu/General/FruitBerry.html

  • 4
    +1, but I disagree re "Avocado flesh". This seems quite reasonable. Consider: "Peel an avocado and separate the flesh from the stone". If you don't like "flesh" there, what word would you use instead? 139,000 hits on Google for "avocado flesh" tends to confirm this.
    – abligh
    Sep 19, 2021 at 8:35
  • 15
    "I didn't realise English lacks a word for the edible part of a fruit that covers all cases" — why is "flesh" insufficient?
    – minseong
    Sep 19, 2021 at 10:29
  • 1
    While it does seem less common to use flesh for apples, it's not unheard of simplyrecipes.com/fall_guide_to_the_best_baking_apples or terribleminds.com/ramble/2020/01/22/… Sep 19, 2021 at 23:09
  • Thank you, @Octothorn, for educating me on the subtleties of this topic.
    – NMI
    Sep 21, 2021 at 23:26
  • 1
    @TimothyAWiseman I agree, and I think I did imply something like that. While "apple flesh" sounds odd to me, I see no reason why it would not be a good descriptive, even though the skin is edible.
    – user433460
    Sep 28, 2021 at 7:43

Pulp is also fine to refer to soft meat/flesh in fruits.

pulp (n.)

The soft, succulent part of a fruit usually composed of mesocarp m-w

The soft fleshy part of a fruit.

Jane suspends the pips in muslin to help the marmalade set, but I just use the juice and fleshy pulp from the inside of a lemon… it does the same trick. Lexico

flesh (n.)
Referring to fruit: pulp, meat; spec. sarcocarp. F. Sturgest Allen; Allen's Synonyns and Antonyms (1921)

An avocado fruit can be divided into three anatomical parts, namely, peel, pulp, and seed. M. F. Ramadan; Fruit Oils: Chemistry and Functionality

In Java, pureed avocado pulp is mixed with sweetened coffee, while in Indonesia avocado-chocolate shakes are reported (Morton, 1987). B. S. Schaffer et al.; The Avocado: Botany, Production, and Uses

  • 5
    I think that "pulp" has a connotation that you've scooped it out of the fruit and, well, pulped it into goo
    – nick012000
    Sep 19, 2021 at 3:38
  • 2
    No doubt that comes from the verb to pulp: to reduce to pulp. However, the noun can stand on its own as the fleshy part if you want it to. There are many examples of "scoop out the pulp" in books.
    – DjinTonic
    Sep 19, 2021 at 4:10
  • 2
    Pulp also has the connotation of the fibrous parts of the fruit interior such as in oranges, which is sometimes removed when making juice.
    – Kai
    Sep 19, 2021 at 12:46
  • 1
    "Pulp" is the normal term, in British recipe books at least, for the flesh of a soft fruit. See, e.g., the first sentence of the recipe for passion-fruit jam in Yoram Ottolenghi's book 'Ottolenghi: The Cookbook': "Halve the passion fruit and use a spoon to scoop out the pulp straight into a small saucepan."
    – Jonathan
    Sep 19, 2021 at 15:38

I agree that both words, "flesh" and "pulp" do give a basic idea to convey that you are eating what is the actual tasty edible part of the fruit, or vegetable. However I and my family have always used the term "meat" of the fruit for this application. For context, my family is American, English-speaking, and mainly from the Mid-West US and have been in the restaurant business, so food terms are standard in our household. The term pulp describes the small pustule-like pieces that you find inside citrus fruits. The pulp is a collection of many small individual fruit pieces (like tiny little grapes). Apples, bananas, and avocados do not have these structures. So the inside of those should be called meat, and not flesh. The term flesh implies muscular tissue from an animal. Though the term meat is also very commonly used as a term for muscular tissue from an animal (like a steak), the more biologically correct term to use for a piece of steak would be flesh. These fine nuances could be important if you are attempting to communicate clearly in polite mixed company. Using the term flesh when talking about an avocado paints a somewhat carnivorous picture of eating animal flesh, whereas saying that the meat of the fruit had turned brown is more clear for this example.

  • 1
    Interesting to hear your use of flesh and meat, which are the reverse of how I would use them.
    – Peter
    Sep 20, 2021 at 9:48
  • 'Meat' is the correct culinary term for the edible part of nuts.
    – user8356
    Sep 20, 2021 at 19:44

From the Webster online dictionary (dictionary.com) the second definition of "meat" is given as "the edible part of anything, as a fruit or nut". So I guess you can call it "meat". Plus, this is what I heard people say in America.


It is not uncommon to use the term "edible part" (or "parts") when referring to fruit, and even to seafood, nuts, and other 'encased' or partly edible edibles. The phrase is somewhat generic, descriptive, unlikely to be misunderstood, but less anatomical than "flesh", "pulp" or "meat."


I believe English has more words than any other language but there is still room for more perhaps` Merely tell your friend that the avocade was 'no longer edible' because it has gone bad. You could use the word 'inside' I suppose. Tell him the inside has gone rotten. or that it is inedible.

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