POMFRET, POMPHRET, s. A genus of sea-fish of broad compressed form, embracing several species, of good repute for the table on all the Indian coasts. According to Day they are all reducible to Stromateus sinensis, ‘the white Pomfret,’ Str. cinereus, which is, when immature, ‘the silver Pomfret,’ and when mature, ‘the gray Pomfret,’ and Str. niger, ‘the black P.’ The French of Pondicherry call the fish pample. We cannot connect it with the [Greek Text] pompiloV of Aelian (xv. 23) and Athenaeus (Lib. VII. cap. xviii. seqq.) which is identified with a very different fish, the ‘pilot-fish’ (Naucrates ductor of Day). The name is probably from the Portuguese, and a corruption of pampano, ‘a vine-leaf,’ from supposed resemblance; this is the Portuguese name of a fish which occurs just where the pomfret should be mentioned. Thus:

[1598.—“The best fish is called Mordexiin, Pampano, and Tatiingo.”—Linschoten, Hak. Soc. ii. 11.]

1613.—“The fishes of this Mediterranean (the Malayan sea) are very savoury sables, and seer fish (serras) and pampanos, and rays. …”—Godinho de Eredia, f. 33v.

[1703.—“… Albacores, Daulphins, Paumphlets.”—In Yule, Hedges’ Diary, Hak. Soc. ii. cccxxxiv.]

1727.—“Between Cunnaca and Ballasore Rivers … a very delicious Fish called the Pamplee, come in Sholes, and are sold for two Pence per Hundred. Two of them are sufficient to dine a moderate Man.”—A. Hamilton, i. 396; [ed. 1744].


“Another face look’d broad and bland
Like pamplet floundering on the sand;
Whene’er she turned her piercing stare,
She seemed alert to spring in air.”—

Malay verses, rendered by Dr. Leyden, in Maria Graham, 201.

1813.—“The pomfret is not unlike a small turbot, but of a more delicate flavour; and epicures esteem the black pomfret a great dainty.”—Forbes, Or. Mem. i. 52–53; [2nd ed. i. 36].].

[1822.—“… the lad was brought up to catch pamphlets and bombaloes. …”—Wallace, Fifteen Years in India, 106.]

1874.—“The greatest pleasure in Bombay was eating a fish called ‘pomfret.’ ”—Sat. Rev., 30th May, 690.

[1896.—“Another account of this sort of seine fishing, for catching pomfret fish, is given by Mr. Gueritz.”—Ling Roth, Natives of Sarawak, i. 455.]

POMMELO, PAMPELMOOSE, &c., s. Citrus decumana, L., the largest of the orange-tribe. It is the same fruit as the shaddock of the West Indies; but to the larger varieties some form of the name Pommelo seems also to be applied in the West. A small variety, with a fine skin, is sold in London shops as “the Forbidden fruit.” The fruit, though grown in gardens over a great part of India, really comes to perfection only near the Equator, and especially in Java, whence it was probably brought to the continent. For it is called in Bengal Batavi nimbu (i.e. Citrus Bataviana). It probably did not come to India till the 17th century; it is not mentioned in the Ain. According to Bretschneider the Pommelo is mentioned in the ancient Chinese Book of the Shu-King. Its Chinese name is Yu.

The form of the name which we have put first is that now general in Anglo-Indian use. But it is probably only a modern result of ‘striving after meaning’ (quasi Pomo-melone?). Among older authors the name goes through many strange shapes. Tavernier calls it pompone (Voy. des Indes, liv. iii. ch. 24; [ed. Ball, ii. 360]), but the usual French name is pampel-mousse. Dampier has Pumplenose (ii. 125); Lockyer, Pumplemuse (51); Forrest, Pummel- nose (32); Ives, ‘pimple-noses, called in the West Indies Chadocks’ [19]. Maria Graham uses the French spelling (22). Pompoleon is a form unknown to us, but given in the Eng. Cyclopaedia. Molesworth’s Marathi Dict. gives “papannas, papanas, or papanis (a word of S. America).” We are unable to give the true etymology, though Littré says boldly “Tamoul, bambolimas.” Ainslie (Mat. Medica, 1813) gives Poomlimas as the Tamil, whilst Balfour (Cycl. of India) gives Pumpalimas and Bambulimas as Tamil, Bombarimasa and Pampara-panasa as Telugu, Bambali naringi as Malayalim. But if these are real words they appear to be corruptions of some foreign term. [Mr. F. Brandt points out that the above forms are merely various attempts to transliterate a word which is in Tamil pambalimasu, while the Malayalim is bambali-narakambambili tree.’ According to the Madras Gloss. all these, as well as the English forms, are ultimately derived from the Malay pumpulmas. Mr. Skeat writes: “In an obsolete Malay dict., by Howison (1801) I find ‘poomplemoos, a fruit brought from India by Captain Shaddock, the seeds of which were planted at Barbadoes,’ and afterwards obtained his name: the affix moos appears to be the Dutch moes, ‘vegetable.’ ” If this be so, the Malay is not the original form.]

1661.—“The fruit called by the Netherlanders Pumpelmoos, by the Portuguese Jamboa, grows in superfluity outside the city

  By PanEris using Melati.

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