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

  • noun A tall tropical African annual plant (Abelmoschus esculentus) in the mallow family, widely cultivated in warm regions for its edible, mucilaginous green pods.
  • noun The edible pods of this plant, used in soups and stews and as a vegetable.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A plant, Hibiscus esculentus, an esteemed vegetable, cultivated in the East and West Indies, the southern United States, etc. See gumbo.

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

  • noun (Bot.) An annual plant (Abelmoschus esculentus syn. Hibiscus esculentus), whose green pods, abounding in nutritious mucilage, are much used for soups, stews, or pickles; gumbo.
  • noun The pods of the plant okra, used as a vegetable; also, a dish prepared with them; gumbo.

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

  • noun The annual plant, Abelmoschus esculentus, possibly of Ethiopian origin, grown for its edible pods.

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

  • noun long mucilaginous green pods; may be simmered or sauteed but used especially in soups and stews
  • noun long green edible beaked pods of the okra plant
  • noun tall coarse annual of Old World tropics widely cultivated in southern United States and West Indies for its long mucilaginous green pods used as basis for soups and stews; sometimes placed in genus Hibiscus


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

[Of West African origin; akin to Akan (Twi) nkruma.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Probably from Igbo ọkụrụ.


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  • For anyone who knows only European languages, to wade into Arabic is to discover an endlessly strange and yet oddly ordered lexical universe. Some words have definitions that go on for pages and seem to encompass all possible meanings; others are outlandishly precise. Paging through the dictionary one night, I found a word that means “to cut off the upper end of an okra.�? -- "Arabic Lessons," Robert F. Worth, New York Times, Jan. 6, 2008

    January 10, 2008

  • But what WAS that word?!

    January 10, 2008

  • What yarb said. I spent a lot of my early years doing exactly that (okra grows in profusion in South Carolina) and now I want to know what to call it.

    January 10, 2008

  • "Circumcise"? Which would make skipvia an okra-mohel I think there's a song about it:


    January 10, 2008

  • Apparently the author means to torture us by not telling us what the word is. Otherwise, you can be sure I'd have Wordiefied it!

    January 10, 2008

  • Good grief, sionnach, what are they feeding you these days? ;-)

    January 10, 2008

  • Hmmm. Now I have this ineradicable image of Johnny Depp playing skipvia in "Skipvia: the demon mohel of Charleston"

    January 10, 2008

  • Actually, Charleston is not my okra-homa. It's Rock Hill.

    Many people point out how much I resemble Johnny Depp. Which is not at all.

    January 10, 2008

  • That's a great article from the New York Times, which for me is saying a lot, since I have very little respect for that paper.

    January 10, 2008

  • skipvia, I'm sure you resemble Johnny Depp in many ways---and at least one of them is "not at all." ;)

    OHHHHHHHKRA-MOHEL where the wind comes sweepin' down the ... well. Those lyrics don't really work. *earworm alert!*

    January 10, 2008

  • Amazing. We've found something just a little too weird for Weird Al.

    January 10, 2008

  • Great. Now every time I see this word, apparently, I'm going to start singing sionnach's song. *humming* ohhhhhhh-kra-mohel...

    January 10, 2008

  • I still want to know what the Arabic word is for “to cut off the upper end of an okra.�?

    *wondering and humming*

    January 10, 2008

  • The first definition herein incorrectly refers okra to the pods/fruits of a leguminous plant. Okra is a member of the Malvaceae, or mallow family of plants.

    Elsewhere this term refers to the soft, edible, beaked, mucilaginous green capsular fruits of Abelmoschus esculentus, a.k.a. Hibiscus esculentus, and lady fingers. The green pods are either battered and fried, or stewed (commonly with diced tomatoes and onions), or used as an ingredient and thickener (due to its mucilage) in gumbo in the southern US and elsewhere.

    January 4, 2009

  • Is it lady fingers or ladies' fingers?

    March 27, 2014