Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a vegetable with a hard round white central part surrounded by green leaves

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun cauliflower was first used in English in the form ‘cole florie’ by the famous botanist John Gerard in his ‘Herball’ in 1597. It was derived from a Latin word meaning ‘flowered cabbage’: cole is an old word for cabbage.


A shortage of cauliflowers caused by inclement weather earlier in the summer has shocked lovers of this decorative vegetable. The cauliflower, often shortened to ‘cauli’, is tricky to grow and crops of the vegetable, along with other brassicas, were fatally damaged by heavy rainfall and flooding in June. Classically served with a cheese sause, cauliflower has found new popularity in recent years as a substitute for rice or grains, favoured by those who wish to cut down on their consumption of carbohydrates and increase their vegetable intake. Blitzed in a food processor and then quickly cooked, cauliflower is an agreeably nutty vehicle for other flavours, albeit one that tastes nothing like rice. A cauliflower ear meanwhile has nothing to do with food; it is named for the resemblance of an affected ear to the whorls of the vegetable.


Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”
(Mark Twain)

“You know how it is with some girls. They seem to take the stuffing right out of you. I mean to say, there is something about their personality that paralyses the vocal cords and reduces the contents of the brain to cauliflower.”
(P.G. Wodehouse)

Related words

broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, kale

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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