U.S. A species of squash having a scalloped edge. [Alteration of SIMNEL.] 1785 T. JEFFERSON Notes Virginia vi. 68 Cymlings. Cucurbita verrucosa. 1981 Farmstead Mag. Winter 41/1 Common pumpkins are actually a form of the same plant from which has also been developed vegetable marrows, cymlings, or cymlins (also spelled simlins), summer crookneck squashes, and yellow-flowered gourds.
Thus the OED (I’ve selected two of their many quotations); my native dictionaries, Merriam-Webster and the American Heritage, let me down in the matter of this native-born word, which I ran across in the following Lorine Niedecker poem (part of her “Thomas Jefferson” series, presumably based on his writings):

Hamilton and the bankers
would make my country Carthage

I am abandoning the rich—
their dinner parties—

I shall eat my simlins
with the class of science

or not at all
Next year the last of labors

among conflicting parties
Then my family

we shall sow our cabbages


  1. One of my white relative(Henry County, Kentucky)(I’m Senaca more or less), used to refer to “simlin” for yellow neck squash, it wasn’t until years latter that I discover the spelling for the word that I think he was looking for, “cymbling”. Of course being Kentucky it was not unusual that the “g” was dropped. I suspect your dictionary might have the other spellings.

  2. Hi, Teel! Now that I’ve googled a bit, I see that “cymling” and “cymbling” are both used (as in the 1913 Webster’s Unabridged entry). The OED lists them as variants under “simlin” (“Also 8 cimbeline, cymblin, 8- cymling, 9 cymbling, simblin; cymlin”). I guess it’s a rare enough word that its spelling never got firmly established.

Speak Your Mind