Definition of rambutan in US English:



  • 1A red, plum-sized tropical fruit with soft spines and a slightly acidic taste.

    • ‘Besides pineapples, Hawaii's fruit industry produces papayas, bananas, guavas, avocados, and other specialty fruit, including mangoes, lychees, rambutans, and starfruits.’
    • ‘While the rambutans were there, as well as all the cakes, we were filled by the BBQ dishes and turned down offers of coffee and cakes, despite the name of the restaurant.’
    • ‘The durian, mango, rambutan, mangosteen, pineapple and other fruits are displayed in the market along with a large selection of seafood.’
    • ‘U.S. agricultural quarantines have prohibited importing fresh rambutans from their native Southeast Asia, but the fruit is now grown in Hawaii.’
    • ‘Spiky red rambutans, so easy to peel, were their favourite.’
  • 2The Malaysian tree that bears the rambutan fruit.

    Nephelium lappaceum, family Sapindaceae

    • ‘A guide told us that the night before our visit, 300 rambutan trees went from fruit-laden to bald.’
    • ‘Others in the same genus are the longan, rambutan, and pulasan.’
    • ‘Kebayoran Baru was just a large plantation mostly with rambutan and durian trees, just like other suburbs here.’


Early 18th century: from Malay rambūtan, from rambut ‘hair’, with allusion to the fruit's spines.