Definitions

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

  • noun A curved, scroll-like ornamentation at the top of a ship's bow that resembles the neck of a violin.
  • noun The young, coiled, edible frond of any of various ferns.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Nautical, an ornament at the bow of a ship, over the cutwater, consisting of carved work in the form of a volute or scroll, resembling somewhat that at the head of a violin.
  • noun plural The crozier-like uncoiling young fronds of the cinnamon-fern, Osmunda cinnamomea: so named from their fancied resemblance to the carved head of a violin.

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

  • noun any of several tall ferns of northern temperate regions having graceful arched fronds and sporophylls resembling ostrich plumes.
  • noun New World fern (Osmunda cinnamonea) having woolly cinnamon-colored spore-bearing fronds in early spring later surrounded by green fronds, called also fiddlehead fern; the early uncurling fronds are edible, and sometimes considered as a vegetable delicacy.
  • noun (Naut.) an ornament on a ship's bow, curved like the volute or scroll at the head of a violin. Sometimes it serves the function of a billhead.

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

  • noun The scroll-shaped decoration at the tip of a fiddle.
  • noun The furled fronds of a young fern harvested for food consumption.

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

  • noun New World fern having woolly cinnamon-colored spore-bearing fronds in early spring later surrounded by green fronds; the early uncurling fronds are edible
  • noun tall fern of northern temperate regions having graceful arched fronds and sporophylls resembling ostrich plumes

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

fiddle +‎ head

Examples

  • In early spring, they start to rise from the ground, in small, tightly curled formations that resemble the shape of a snail shell -- or as it's name fiddlehead suggests, the spiral end of a fiddle.

    Boing Boing

  • But that's probably also because it runs a lot of sites: Gilt Home, Gilt Man, Gilt City, Jetsetter for travel and Gilt Taste, which as of last check was selling whole Dungeness crabs, gluten-free carrot cake cookies, fiddlehead ferns and finger limes.

    Gilt's Flashy Dinner for Fashionable Men

  • Also in its startling repertoire are foraged wild mushrooms, a beefsteak tomato carved tableside, fiddlehead ferns, acid-tinged calamondin oranges today called calamansi, and those now ubiquitous but then obscure cherry tomatoes and snow peas.

    Rozanne Gold: Joe Baum's Nasturtiums: A Tribute

  • For those adventurous eaters (at least in my book), here is a collection of fiddlehead recipes.

    How cute are these fiddleheads?? « Sugar Creek Gardens’ Blog

  • Andy Ricker, who won the 2011 James Beard award for best chef in the Northwest, shops the stalls of Hmong farmers at his Portland, Oregon, market to find fiddlehead ferns, vegetables like "phak khanaa" or Chinese broccoli, exotic, untranslatable herbs and crucial ingredients like cilantro root for the innovative Asian cuisine he turns out at his restaurant Pok Pok.

    Chefs talk about unusual farmers market finds

  • Also in its startling repertoire are foraged wild mushrooms, a beefsteak tomato carved tableside, fiddlehead ferns, acid-tinged calamondin oranges today called calamansi, and those now ubiquitous but then obscure cherry tomatoes and snow peas.

    Rozanne Gold: Joe Baum's Nasturtiums: A Tribute

  • His fricassee of snails contains the spicy Japanese condiment red yuzu kosho, local fiddlehead ferns and resinous Greek mastic infused with English peas.

    Snails Quicken Their Culinary Pace

  • Ramps are usually the first wild food to be harvested by foragers out of the forest, followed by morels, fiddlehead ferns (small, unfurled edible ferns, whose green beans-meets-asparagus flavor is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition) and nettles.

    Restaurants See Signs of Spring

  • Ramps are usually the first wild food to be harvested by foragers out of the forest, followed by morels, fiddlehead ferns (small, unfurled edible ferns, whose green beans-meets-asparagus flavor is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition) and nettles.

    Restaurants See Signs of Spring

  • Ramps are usually the first wild food to be harvested by foragers out of the forest, followed by morels, fiddlehead ferns (small, unfurled edible ferns, whose green beans-meets-asparagus flavor is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition) and nettles.

    Restaurants See Signs of Spring

Comments

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  • A staple food of Northwest tribes--very young fern fronds still curled into the shape of a...ummm...fiddlehead. Delicious sautéed or steamed.

    October 18, 2007

  • And of Northeast tribes, too. Available each spring in Maine supermarkets.

    Also, the workshop of the guy who built our kitchen cabinets :-)

    October 18, 2007

  • Delicious w/ butter.

    October 18, 2007

  • Beautiful work, John! You must be thrilled with those cabinets. :-)

    October 18, 2007