Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various deciduous, spineless shrubs of the genus Ribes, native chiefly to the Northern Hemisphere and having flowers in racemes and edible red, black, or white berries.
  • noun The fruits of any of these plants, used for jams, jellies, desserts, or beverages.
  • noun A small seedless raisin of the Mediterranean region, used chiefly in baking.
  • noun Any of several other plants or their fruit.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An obsolete spelling of current and courant.
  • noun A very small kind of raisin or dried grape imported from the Levant, chiefly from Zante and Cephalonia, and used in cookery.
  • noun The small round fruit (a berry) of several species of Ribes, natural order Saxifragaceæ; the plant producing this fruit: so called because the berries resemble in size the small grapes from the Levant.
  • noun In Australia and Tasmania, a species of Leucopogon, especially
  • noun A name for various melastomaceous species of tropical America, bearing edible berries, especially of the genera

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A small kind of seedless raisin, imported from the Levant, chiefly from Zante and Cephalonia; -- used in cookery.
  • noun The acid fruit or berry of the Ribes rubrum or common red currant, or of its variety, the white currant.
  • noun (Bot.) A shrub or bush of several species of the genus Ribes (a genus also including the gooseberry); esp., the Ribes rubrum.
  • noun a shrub or bush (Ribes nigrum and Ribes floridum) and its black, strong-flavored, tonic fruit.
  • noun a variety of the red currant, having a strong, symmetrical bush and a very large berry.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the larva of an insect that bores into the pith and kills currant bushes; specif., the larvae of a small clearwing moth (Ægeria tipuliformis) and a longicorn beetle (Psenocerus supernotatus).
  • noun (Zoöl.) an insect larva which eats the leaves or fruit of the currant. The most injurious are the currant sawfly (Nematus ventricosus), introduced from Europe, and the spanworm (Eufitchia ribearia). The fruit worms are the larva of a fly (Epochra Canadensis), and a spanworm (Eupithecia).
  • noun a species of Ribes (Ribes aureum), having showy yellow flowers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A small dried grape, usually the Black Corinth grape, rarely more than 4mm diameter when dried.
  • noun The fruit of various shrubs of the genus Ribes, either white, black or red.
  • noun A shrub bearing such fruit.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun any of several tart red or black berries used primarily for jellies and jams
  • noun any of various deciduous shrubs of the genus Ribes bearing currants
  • noun small dried seedless raisin grown in the Mediterranean region and California; used in cooking

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From Middle English (raysons of) coraunte, (raisins of) Corinth, currants, from Anglo-Norman (raisins de) Corauntz, from Latin Corinthus, Corinth, from Greek Korinthos.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French raisins de Corinthe, raisins (grapes?) of Corinth, the city in Greece.

Examples

Comments

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  • The name is from Corinth in Greece, and these were originally the dried grapes, and first called raisins of Corinth. In the sixteenth century the name was misapplied to the newly-introduced red and black kin of gooseberries. I am eating redcurrants as I type.

    July 17, 2009

  • That's fascinating. I had no idea. Currants are not hugely popular in the U.S. (at least with my homeys) but I don't really know why.

    July 17, 2009

  • For some reason this post just made my day--maybe because I'm looking out over the wild currants growing in my back yard. We make jelly from them.

    I love Wordie...

    July 17, 2009

  • Did you know they are named after Corinth, skip?

    July 18, 2009

  • Currant was still used to refer to raisins (there may have been a subtle difference) by some people of my parents' generation when I was a child. The fresh fruits were blackcurrants or redcurrants, never just currants.

    July 18, 2009

  • No clue c_b. It was a delightful discovery. Thanks, groqqa.

    July 18, 2009

  • A photo (20-Jul-09) of some currants from my back yard.

    July 21, 2009

  • Yum! Wonderful!

    July 21, 2009

  • Wow, you can grow those in your garden? But I'm confused, what's the difference between grapes and currants?

    July 21, 2009

  • They're wild currants. They grow all over in interior Alaska. As to the difference, it may be largely semantic. Check this article from Wikipedia. The ones pictured are redcurrant berries.

    July 21, 2009