Banana, Plantágo and Plantain

Worldwide, there is some agreement that regular edible bananas should be called bananas, while starchy bananas that are usually baked or cooked should be called plátanos or plantains.

Platáno is a Spanish word that originally was not linked to the banana. It was used to describe a small family of trees, the planes or plane trees. These trees are indigenous in the northern hemisphere. The origin of the scientific name of these species, platanos, is Greek: πλατσυός. That word can be traced back to platos (πλατός), which means ‘broad’ or ‘wide’. Now we can easily understand why the Spaniards decided to call the banana shrub platáno; it has very broad leaves.
If you might further be interested in the origin of the word ‘banana’, I can help you here because the Arabic word banan translates as ‘(human) finger’. Because the bananas were introduced from India to Afria and Arabia by Indian or Arab seafarers, the Arabs borrowed the name from Egyptian mauz or mous via Sanskriti word moka and eventually it became mauz in Arabic.

Carl von Linné (1707 – 1778) or Carolus Linnaeus in his latinized form used the Arabic mauz to describe the family and name it Musa. However, a minority of scholars think that Musa is derived from Antonio Musa (63-14 BC), the physician to Emperor Augustus.

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