The chickpea or chick pea (Cicer arietinum) is a legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. It is also known as gram, or Bengal gram, garbanzo or garbanzo bean and sometimes known as Egyptian pea, ceci, cece or chana or Kabuli Chana (particularly in northern India). Its seeds are high in protein. It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes: 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.
The name "chickpea" traces back through the French chiche to cicer, Latin for 'chickpea' (from which the Roman cognomen Cicero was taken). The Oxford English Dictionary lists a 1548 citation that reads, "Cicer may be named in English Cich, or ciche pease, after the Frenche tongue." The dictionary cites "Chick-pea" in the mid-18th century; the original word in English taken directly from French was chich, found in print in English in 1388. The word garbanzo came first to American English as garvance in the 17th century, from an alteration of the Old Spanish word arvanço (presumably influenced by garroba), being gradually anglicized to calavance, though it came to refer to a variety of other beans (cf. Calavance). The current form garbanzo comes directly from modern Spanish. This word is still used in Latin America and Spain to designate chickpeas. Some have suggested that the origin of the word arvanço is in the Greek erebinthos. Another possible origin is the word garbantzu, from Basque — a non-Indo-European tongue — in which it is a compound of garau, seed + antzu, dry.