malus Latin, apple tree < malum Latin, apple < melon Greek, apple, or any tree fruit < Indo-European root *mel sweet-tasting, like honey or ripe fruit Apple < aeppel, aepl Old English. The word apple is related to Modern German Apfel, Dutch appel, Swedish äpple, and Danish aeble. Slavic languages add a diminutive to the root to give Russian yablo-ko, Polish and Czech jablko, and Serb jabuka. Related Indo-European forms appear in Welsh afal, Gaelic ubhal, Lithuanian obuolas.
In his seminal word book, Origins, Eric Partridge presents his source of the European apple word, from the name of a Roman town noted for its apples and other fruits and nuts, Abella, an ancient marketing centre for produce from the surrounding fields of fertile Campania. The Latin poet Virgil called the little town Abella malifera ‘Abella rich in apples.’ Today it’s Avella, a few kilometres inland and east of Naples. How important was this place for fruits and nuts? Well, the Italian word for hazelnut is avellana ‘of Abella,’ and the botanical name for the hazelnut tree is Corylus avellana. A rare synonym in English for hazelnut or filbert is avellan. In heraldry there is a design called the avellan cross, a stubby crucifix shaped like four stylized hazelnuts