How Did the Crab Apple Get Its Name?
Most apples are delicious to eat raw. But if you’ve ever bitten into a crab apple, and if you know that one meaning of the word “crab” is sour, then you can easily guess how the crab apple got its name.
Crab apples are small sour apples to which our common apple is related. Crab apples can be found growing wild in many parts of North America. Though most crab apples taste sour, a few are pleasantly tart and can be eaten fresh.
They are good for making delicious jellies and preserves, and the crab apple tree is often used for ornamental purposes.
The other thought about the origin of crab in this sense first notes that the Scottish form is scrab or scrabbe, seemingly from a Norse source, as there is Swedish skrabba “fruit of the wild apple tree”.
This would suggest that crab and crabbe are aphetic forms of a much older word.