Definition of calabash in English:



  • 1An evergreen tropical American tree which bears fruit in the form of large woody gourds.

    • ‘On Lovers' Lane nearby, some young men and women were flirting, while in the corner under a calabash tree some older men sat debating as to whether or not pawpaw leaves were the best bait for catching angel fish.’
    • ‘The picturesque trail winds from swamplands tangled with black mangroves to forests; past mango, tamarind, and calabash trees and delicate wild banana orchids to grassy glades dotted with palm trees.’
    • ‘Across the street, the fat man sporting aviator shades and a floppy straw hat loitered behind a calabash tree perusing the Bermuda Sun.’
    • ‘In the early part of the 1800s, the area was extensively planted with maize, potatoes, kumara, taro, calabashes, melons and pumpkins.’
    • ‘The evening air was damp with exotic exhalations; Surinam cherry and blossoming calabash trees lined the property.’
    1. 1.1 A gourd from the calabash tree.
      • ‘The intricately beaded calabashes and carvings indicate this tribal king's royal status.’
      • ‘While a small band is playing and singing the traditional song of San Juan, blindfolded dancers from the audience try to hit the calabash with a stick.’
      • ‘Peul musicians play handcrafted flutes, drums, and string instruments, and they use calabashes to beat out rhythms.’
      • ‘Each wears a tall conical headdress made of fresh Thaumatococcus leaves and raffia sacking on a stick frame; it ends in a calabash that fits over the wearer's face.’
      • ‘Carved calabash or gourds are made into masks or filled with seeds to rattle as maracas.’
      • ‘Several series of images from this visit depict techniques, ranging from weaving and basketry to pottery making and calabash carving.’
      • ‘Cloth, bamboo, calabash, cutlass, wood, metal, and many other materials can be used by the Grenadian artist as painting surfaces.’
      • ‘Every rap, pink, and thonk on the calabash resonated.’
      • ‘Boys aged 13 wore calabash sheaths; aged 15, sheaths were of civet or wild cat fur, which they could decorate with the tail from the pelt at 17.’
      • ‘Slipping beneath the waters off Tobago, in 1969, Hutchinson threaded five calabashes on a rope anchored to a bed of coral.’
      • ‘A calabash cut in half lengthways and attached in a corner of a likely nesting place could also attract swallows.’
      • ‘The traditional kora, a stringed calabash instrument, symbolizes the singing poet tradition in the country.’
      • ‘Another popular instrument is the seigureh, which consists of stones in a rope-bound calabash.’
      • ‘A typical breakfast might consist of corn porridge eaten with a spoon made of a small, elongated calabash split in half.’
      • ‘Artists cast sculptures in bronze and brass, produce glass and metal work, and make quality leatherwork and calabash carvings.’
      • ‘Then, when he shed the canopy, the thing looked like a large calabash, and he resembled a woman going to market with a heavy load of produce on her head.’
      • ‘The name comes from the Inca word for a calabash: traditionally, gourds were used to make vessels for the tea.’
      • ‘Decorated with potjiekos pots, beaded dolls and calabashes, the restaurant also promises to be easy on your pocket.’
      • ‘The only reminder of the separation of crowd and performers was the visibility of costumes and the empowered medicinal calabashes worn around the neck of the dance leader.’
      • ‘The Mayumbe near the coast paint calabashes, decorating them with hunting scenes and colorful geometric designs.’
      • ‘Dishes are served traditionally in the dried calabash - the fruit of the island's national plant.’
      • ‘They also make calabashes (decorated gourds used as utensils).’
      • ‘Some are large calabashes (a type of gourd) with leather drumheads and are played with the hands.’
      • ‘They were pictured chatting about the benefits of organic food in a food hall resplendent with purple calabash tomatoes, butternut chutney and smoked salmon from the Shetland Islands packaged in wrappers adorned with hearts.’
      • ‘But baskets and ornamental calabashes can't put food in the mouths of 12 people.’
      • ‘One of the commonest African names for the xylophone, usually with calabash resonators.’
      • ‘Chadian craftsmen produce musical instruments of extremely high quality using materials such as wood, animal guts and horns, and calabashes.’
      • ‘That bowl is shaped like a small flat calabash cut vertically.’
      • ‘Women engrave designs into yellow calabash gourds.’
      • ‘In Makarou they played calabashes ringed with cowrie shells, creating a wonderful sound to accompany this joyous, fast-paced dance.’
      • ‘They also take care of calves and clean, sterilize, and decorate calabashes (gourds).’
      • ‘At the funeral of Nanan Toto Kra, a Baoule Akan, Mossi men dance with calabash rattles.’
    2. 1.2 A water container, tobacco pipe, or other object made from the dried shell of a calabash or a similar gourd.
      • ‘The animals' shells made good calabashes for water and food.’
      • ‘The band's rhythms are unlocked, almost floating, yet groove hard enough to provoke involuntary spine twitching in the listener, with the dual percussion attack of tambour and calabash underpinning the forest of crossrhythms.’
      • ‘A calabash basin consists of a basin that sits above a toilet cistern.’
      • ‘Although the Kalenjin are not well known for their handicrafts, women do make and locally sell decorated calabashes from gourds.’
      • ‘They told stories, sung, and danced and shared the contents of the calabash!’
      • ‘The painting raises another question: how can native Hawaiians preserve ancient traditions within the calabash of ideas and cultures that is contemporary Hawaii?’
      • ‘Near another tent, a group of women were chanting to a rhythm beaten out on a makeshift drum: half a calabash upturned in a plastic basin of water, struck by a flip-flop.’
      • ‘We share everything, whether it is food from the same bowl, milk from the same calabash or even our wives whom we share and have children with,’ he said.’
      • ‘Despite the fact that wooden milk pails are increasingly replaced by plastic and aluminium containers, calabashes still play an important role in the lives of the Kavango.’
      • ‘After about fifteen minutes of this, the dancing and drumming stopped and a clay calabash, twelve inches across, was filled with water and handed to the witch doctor, together with a small palm leaf.’
      • ‘Dolo is served in a calabash after having been cooked for over three days in huge jars.’
      • ‘The sacks are broken open and each divided between nine women: they fill their calabashes with pulses and tear up the plastic to make bundles to put on their heads.’
      • ‘He forced them to swallow some corn meal and some of the water he'd brought in a calabash.’
      • ‘This went on until all the chickens had shed their blood, some into the calabash, some sprayed onto the altar and some into the stream.’
      • ‘To facilitate quick thickening of the cream the root of the munkudi plant is added to the calabash.’
      • ‘The chief brought us native beer in dirty calabashes, we gave him a mug of rum and sat under a council tree outside the village.’
      • ‘In the grey light before dawn I woke and saw a line of women pass silently in single file with calabashes on their heads going to collect water from the muddy hollows of a dying river.’
      • ‘The smell of the ‘lakh’ [Senegalese food prepared from roughly kneaded millet flour, which is cooked in water and eaten with curds] cooling in the calabashes pervades the air.’
      • ‘Drinking water was gathered in calabashes from a spring half way up the western face, reached by a brave volunteer lowered on a flax rope.’
      • ‘We wash the food down with a calabash full of palm wine - it's a natural drink made from the dew and the juices of the palm tree.’
      tobacco pipe, briar, briar pipe, meerschaum, clay pipe
      View synonyms


Mid 17th century: from French calebasse, from Spanish calabaza, perhaps from Persian ḵarbuz ‘melon’.