bitter melon

noun

Definition of bitter melon 

: an herbaceous annual vine (Momordica charantia of the family Cucurbitaceae) native to the Old World tropics but widely naturalized that has oblong, warty, bitter fruits which are used as vegetables usually while green and immature A warm weather crop, bitter melon should be seeded six inches apart after all danger of frost—grow it along a fence or trellis.— Lynda D. Gutowski, New York Times, 24 May 1981 also : the fruit Bitter melon darkens and becomes stronger in flavor as it matures, so one is advised to choose younger, lighter gourds. — Nina Simonds, Gourmet, July 1980 There, as city traffic roared up North Broad Street last summer, they quietly cultivated organic bitter melon, which looks like a warty cucumber and is a mainstay of Asian cuisine … — Virginia A. Smith, Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 Feb. 2011

Note: Both the plant and its fruit are also called balsam apple, balsam pear, bitter gourd, {psl}India{/psl} karela, and {psl}Philippines{/psl} ampalaya.

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

First Known Use of bitter melon

1894, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bitter melon

Share bitter melon

Statistics for bitter melon

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bitter melon

The first known use of bitter melon was in 1894

See more words from the same year

Comments on bitter melon

What made you want to look up bitter melon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

playful or foolish behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!