cavolo nero


ca·​vo·​lo ne·​ro ˈkä-və-(ˌ)lō-ˈner-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce cavolo nero (audio)
variants or less commonly cavalo nero
: tuscan kale
Chefs and savvy travelers have long revered the bumpy, palm-shaped leaves for their deep flavor and color. Now, cavolo nero, a winter vegetable in Tuscany, is grown here year-round.Los Angeles Times, 13 Dec. 1998
Cultivated in Tuscany starting in the 18th century (and perhaps even earlier), cavolo nero is prized for its bountiful growth through the lean winter months.Indrani Sen, Saveur, November 2007

Word History


borrowed from Italian, literally, "black cabbage". Though Italian cavolo is conventionally translated "cabbage," the word, with a dependent modifier, actually covers most edible varieties of Brassica oleracea. Cavolo, going back to Late Latin caulus (Latin caulis "stalk of a plant, cabbage") is apparently dependent on southern dialect forms with preservation of the diphthong and an interposed consonant; the regular central Italian development is represented by Umbrian dialect còlo (see Gerhard Rolhlfs, Grammatica storica della lingua italiana e dei suoi dialetti: Fonetica [Turin: Einaudi, 1966], p. 64)

First Known Use

1777, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cavolo nero was in 1777

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Dictionary Entries Near cavolo nero

Cite this Entry

“Cavolo nero.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

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