Vernacular Spectacular #12: “kiwi” vs. “kiwifruit”

Apparently the kiwi used to be known as the Chinese gooseberry, and it was due to fear of communism and the Vietnam War that folks in the United States and Australia went along with the New Zealand rebranding of calling it “kiwi.” At least this is what we were told last month when we visited the Tropical Fruit Museum.

Kiwi is a great word; among the cutest of all fruit names. And yet, it’s a cuteness borne of jingoistic hysteria and racism. So, we have not just a frivolous comparison of words but a full-fledged moral dilemma. Also, the name “kiwi” only flies because Americans are ignorant of the bird, and it also leads Americans to think New Zealanders are called “kiwis” because of the fruit rather than the bird.

Jeremy’s winner: kiwifruit

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