What Is the Difference Between a Fruit and a Vegetable?
In 1893 the United State Supreme Court tried to clarify the difference between a fruit and a vegetable by saying that vegetables are eaten as part of the main course of a meal, but fruit is eaten as an appetizer or dessert, or for a snack.
In the suit, Nix vs Hedden, the court ruled unanimously that an imported tomato should be taxed as a vegetable, rather than as a (less taxed) fruit. The court acknowledged that a tomato is a botanical fruit, but went with what they called the “ordinary” definitions of fruit and vegetable — the ones used in the kitchen.
But, as with so many words, there is one definition which is correct according to the dictionary and another one which people use in everyday life. Sweet corn, for instance, is eaten as an appetizer, but most people would consider it a vegetable.
In botany, a fruit is the ripened ovary of a plant. (The ovary is the part of the plant where the seeds are kept), whereas vegetables are all other plant parts, such as roots, leaves and stems. So, strictly speaking, an acorn is as much a fruit as an apple. But, if you went into a store and asked for fruit, the store owner would not offer you acorns.
When we talk about fruit in everyday life, we mean the juicy fruits like apples, grapes, oranges and melons. “Vegetable” has even more meanings then “fruit”. The word covers any kind of plant life, even including trees. But, again, in everyday life vegetables mean food like lettuce, carrots, cabbage and sprouts.