Q. Dear Twig: What does it mean to give someone a raspberry?
A. Close your mouth. Stick out your tongue through your lips. Puff out your cheeks. Then blow out a sharp burst of air. Pbbbbbt! That's it! That's what it means to give someone a raspberry!
In this case, to "give someone a raspberry," or to "blow a raspberry," has nothing to do with fruit.
(Raspberries, yes, are a type of fruit. But in fact they aren't at all berries. Scientists call them an aggregate fruit made up of many drupelets.)
And it isn't a gift, either.
No, it's a silly way to say you don't like something. Say, you find out you're having Thai Fried Liver Balls for dinner. Or your favorite baseball player ("Gra-DEE! Gra-DEE!") makes an out.
The online Wikipedia says "blow a raspberry" comes from Cockney rhyming slang, a type of slang in England. It stems from "raspberry tart," a pastry, and a word that rhymes with it and with "Bart."
P.S. Another term for "blowing a raspberry" is to give someone a "Bronx cheer." Pbbbt!
Notes: "Bronx cheer" comes from New York City, Yankee Stadium, and is a sarcastic way to show dislike. "Sarcasm" means saying the opposite of what one really thinks. Blowing a raspberry/Bronx cheer is actually probably best reserved for silly, not serious, occasions. ("Oh yeah? Pbbbbbt!") Learn more about the phrase at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowing_a_raspberry. Read about Cockney rhyming slang at http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk/cockney_rhyming_slang. Last but not least, learn how to grow, not blow, raspberries in Ohio State University Extension's Brambles: Production, Management and Marketing, http://ohioline.osu.edu/b782/.
About this column: "Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," a free public service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences - specifically, of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, both part of the College - is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. The reading level typically rates at grades 3.5-4.5. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, firstname.lastname@example.org, (330) 263-3776. Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.