- any tree or shrub belonging to the genus Ficus, of the mulberry family, especially a small tree, F. carica, native to southwestern Asia, bearing a turbinate or pear-shaped fruit that is eaten fresh, preserved, or dried.
- the fruit of such a tree or shrub, or of any related species.
- any of various plants having a fruit somewhat resembling this.
- a contemptibly trifling or worthless amount; the least bit: His help wasn’t worth a fig.
- a gesture of contempt.
- dress or array: to appear at a party in full fig.
- condition: to feel in fine fig.
- any moraceous tree or shrub of the tropical and subtropical genus Ficus, in which the flowers are borne inside a pear-shaped receptacle
- the fruit of any of these trees, esp of F. carica, which develops from the receptacle and has sweet flesh containing numerous seedlike structures
- any of various plants or trees having a fruit similar to this
- Hottentot fig or sour fig a succulent plant, Mesembryanthemum edule, of southern Africa, having a capsular fruit containing edible pulp: family Aizoaceae
- (used with a negative) something of negligible value; jotI don’t care a fig for your opinion
- Also: feg dialect a piece or segment from an orange
- Also called: fico an insulting gesture made with the thumb between the first two fingers or under the upper teeth
verb figs, figging or figged (tr)
- (foll by out or up) to dress (up) or rig (out)
- to administer stimulating drugs to (a horse)
- dress, appearance, or array (esp in the phrase in full fig)
- physical condition or formin bad fig
early 13c., from Old French figue (12c.), from Old Provençal figa, from Vulgar Latin *fica, from Latin ficus “fig tree, fig,” from a pre-Indo-European Mediterranean language, possibly a Semitic one (cf. Phoenician pagh “half-ripe fig”). A reborrowing of a word that had been taken directly from Latin as Old English fic.
The insulting sense of the word in Shakespeare, etc. (A fig for …) is 1570s, in part from fig as “small, valueless thing,” but also from Greek and Italian use of their versions of the word as slang for “vulva,” apparently because of how a ripe fig looks when split open [Rawson, Weekley]. Giving the fig (French faire la figue, Spanish dar la higa) was an indecent gesture of ancient provenance, made by putting the thumb between two fingers or into the mouth, with the intended effect of the modern gesture of “flipping the bird” (see bird (n.3)). See sycophant. Use of fig leaf in figurative sense of “flimsy disguise” (1550s) is from Gen. iii:7.
see under not give a damn.