Definitions

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

  • noun Any of various evergreen or deciduous shrubs of the genus Gaylussacia in the heath family, especially those found in eastern North America, bearing edible bluish-black berries containing hard seedlike nutlets.
  • noun Any of various erect deciduous or evergreen shrubs of the genus Vaccinium in the heath family, primarily of western North America, having edible blackish, blue, or red berries.
  • noun The fruit of any of these plants.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A name for the different species of Gaylussacia, and for some of the species of Vaccinium, belonging to the natural order Vacciniaceæ, as also for their fruit.
  • noun Gaylussacia hirtella, a true huckleberry, related to the dwarf huckleberry, but with the young parts and even the fruit hispid. It is found along the lower Atlantic and the Gulf coasts of the United States.

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

  • noun The edible black or dark blue fruit of several species of the American genus Gaylussacia, shrubs nearly related to the blueberries (Vaccinium), and formerly confused with them. The commonest huckelberry comes from Gaylussacia resinosa.
  • noun The shrub that bears the berries. Called also whortleberry.
  • noun See Deeberry.

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

  • noun A small round fruit of a dark blue or red color of several plants in the related genera Vaccinium and Gaylussacia.
  • noun A shrub growing this fruit.
  • noun idiomatic A small amount, as in the phrase huckleberry above a persimmon.

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

  • noun blue-black berry similar to blueberries and bilberries of the eastern United States
  • noun any of several shrubs of the genus Gaylussacia bearing small berries resembling blueberries
  • noun any of various dark-fruited as distinguished from blue-fruited blueberries

Etymologies

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

[Probably alteration of hurtleberry, whortleberry; see whortleberry.]

Examples

Comments

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  • (Science: botany) The edible black or dark blue fruit of several species of the American genus Gaylussacia, shrubs nearly related to the blueberries (Vaccinium), and formerly confused with them. The commonest huckelberry comes from g. Resinosa.

    The shrub that bears the berries.

    Synonym: whortleberry. Squaw huckleberry. See Deeberry.

    January 19, 2009

  • Gullible Gulls, Huckleberry, Jumbi, Wooden Nickels, Realtors, and Calling a Spade a Spade

    Dear Evan: I recently ran into the phrase "I'm your huckleberry" in a story about the Old West. Looking up the term in a dictionary, I found that in slang it meant "special man for the job" around 1880, but is now considered archaic...

    ...According to the Dictionary of American Regional English, "huckleberry" meant, as you've discovered, "the desired or suitable person" for a task, or just an all-around nice person or even "sweetheart."

    But "huckleberry" could also mean "a small amount or distance" or even "a negligible thing or person." In fact, Twain himself used the word in this less than flattering sense in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" in 1889.

    As a handy metaphor for something very small, the huckleberry also appeared in phrases such as "to bet a huckleberry to a persimmon" (a very small bet) and "a huckleberry above a persimmon" (a very small amount). But, though small, huckleberries could be special, too, as in the phrase "the only huckleberry on the bush," signifying something unique.

    Ironically, amid all this evidence of turn-of-the-century huckleberry madness, we find evidence that the humble huckleberry actually got its name from a simple mistake. Early American colonists, upon encountering the native American berry, misidentified it as the European blueberry known as the "hurtleberry," by which name it was called until, through generations of slightly sloppy pronunciation, it became known as the "huckleberry."

    Huckleberry, from The Word Detective

    January 19, 2009

  • This word occurs in the song Moon River.

    Moon River.

    January 19, 2009

  • In "Moon River", it's a reference to Huckleberry Finn.

    January 19, 2009

  • Ah I see. I couldn't really make sense of it. (Actually even with the knowledge that it's a reference to HF I still don't get it.)

    January 19, 2009

  • The song is about being "drifters off to see the world." In Mark Twain's novel, Huckleberry and Jim run away from home and travel down the Mississippi on a raft, and a number of entertaining adventures ensue. So in the song, "huckleberry" means "free-spirited, adventurous, open to new things, exploring the world".

    January 19, 2009

  • I've never read HF. (Veneration of Mark Twain is one of the roots of our current intellectual stalemate. Ignatius J Reilly:)

    January 19, 2009

  • I don't believe I've read I.J. Reilly, but Huckleberry Finn is delightful. I strongly recommend reading it.

    January 19, 2009

  • Rolig, Ignatius J Reilly is the central character in the delightful A Confederacy of Dunces. :-)

    January 19, 2009

  • Now there's a book that for some sad reason I have never gotten around to reading. I probably watch too much TV.

    January 19, 2009