tomato (referring to an attractive person)

Gavril

Senior Member
English, USA
As recently as 25-30 years ago, the word tomato could be used to refer to an attractive woman: "Wow! There goes a real tomato!" I haven't heard tomato used this way for 20 years or longer. According to dictionary.com, this usage of tomato is "older slang; sometimes offensive".

When do you last remember seeing tomato used with this meaning?
 
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    This is chiefly (perhaps exclusively?) US, and I've never heard it. Having said that, I must have read Catch 22, in which it appears. The last quotation in the OED is dated 1977, which matches your 25-30 years ago.

    M-W Collegiate has tomato as a synonym for prostitute; this association, if understood, would certainly add to its offensiveness.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    I'm pretty sure I remember Elke Sommer being referred to as a "tomato," perhaps in Time magazine, early in her career, whenever that was (late 1960's?; early 1970's?). I was young and naive and didn't suppose she was being called a whore, but I wasn't reading magazines that usually made such insinuations. I think there is a web site that awards "tomatoes" to bad movies: the worse the movie, the more tomatoes. This is probably an illusion to the rotten tomatoes that might be thrown at inept performers in a small town, accompanied by jeers. I think the modern equivalent of the 1960's or 1970's "tomato" would be "hot" as an adjective for "sexy." I'm not sure what the current noun would be; I think "fox" is out of date by now.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    It was certainly more than 30 years ago that "tomato" was used this way. I think you would hear it only in old movies from the 1940s or 1950s. Or perhaps read it in novels of that era.
     

    Cosmos2001

    New Member
    English
    As recently as 25-30 years ago, the word tomato could be used to refer to an attractive woman: "Wow! There goes a real tomato!" I haven't heard tomato used this way for 20 years or longer. According to dictionary.com, this usage of tomato is "older slang; sometimes offensive".

    When do you last remember seeing tomato used with this meaning?
    The most obvious reference in the last 50 years or so is Rocky I. Mick called Rocky (a boxer played by a 30ish Sylvester Stallone) a tomato. Saying he wastied his prime and talents. He said he had the makings of a great fighter but waisted it breaking legs for a mid level loan shark/bookie.
     
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