sy·​co·​ni·​um sī-ˈkō-nē-əm How to pronounce syconium (audio)
plural syconia sī-ˈkō-nē-ə How to pronounce syconium (audio)
: the multiple fleshy fruit of a fig in which the ovaries are borne within an enlarged succulent concave or hollow receptacle

Word History


Latinization of French sycône, a vernacularized form of New Latin syconus, derivative of Greek sŷkon "fig" (probably erroneously construed as *sykon-, *sýkōn, an n-stem, from which *sykṓnion, Latinized as syconium, would be formally a diminutive) — more at fig entry 1

Note: The form syconium perhaps first appears in Elements of Botany and Vegetable Physiology (Edinburgh, 1831), an English translation by W. MacGillivray of Achille Richard's Nouveaux élémens de botanique et de physiologie végétale, 4. édition (Paris, 1828), where it renders Richard's sycône. Richard attributes the coinage (p. 332) to the botanist Charles François Brisseau de Mirbel (1776-1854), who does in fact use sycône in his Élémens de physiologie végétale et de botanique (Paris, 1815), p. 347 and p. 825, where he gives the Latin equivalent as syconus.

First Known Use

circa 1856, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of syconium was circa 1856

Dictionary Entries Near syconium

Cite this Entry

“Syconium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

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