- a tropical plant of the genus Musa, certain species of which are cultivated for their nutritious fruit.Compare banana family.
- the fruit, especially that of M. paradisiaca, with yellow or reddish rind.
- any of several tropical and subtropical herbaceous treelike plants of the musaceous genus Musa, esp M. sapientum, a widely cultivated species propagated from suckers and having hanging clusters of edible fruit
- the crescent-shaped fruit of any of these plantsCompare plantain 2
1590s, borrowed by Spanish or Portuguese from a West African word, possibly Wolof banana. The plant was introduced to the New World from Africa in 1516. Top banana, second banana, etc. are 1950s, from show business slang use of banana for “comedian, especially in a burlesque show.” Banana split first attested 1920. Banana oil “nonsense” is slang from c.1910.
In addition to the idiom beginning with banana
- banana oil
- drive someone crazy (bananas)
- go bananas
- top banana