One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1An edible bulb with a pungent taste and smell, composed of several concentric layers, used in cooking.
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- ‘In another saucepan cook the garlic and spring onions in the vegetable oil until the onion is soft but not brown.’
- ‘Cook the onions and red pepper in the oil for 10 minutes or until softened.’
- ‘Fry the onion in the olive oil in a large frying pan, stirring occasionally, until it begins to colour.’
- ‘Heat up some olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions on medium heat for a few minutes.’
- ‘Heat the olive oil and gently cook the onions in a good solid saucepan for five minutes.’
- ‘Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion, ginger and cumin seeds for 5 min.’
- ‘Fork through the remaining butter with the peas, then spoon on to a warmed platter in a mound and scatter over the onion rings.’
- ‘Add the leeks and onions and cook half an hour or until lightly browned and soft.’
- ‘Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot, and cook the onion for five minutes.’
- ‘Sweat the onion and diced vegetables in a little olive oil, they should soften and turn golden without browning.’
- ‘Heat the olive oil and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes, or until lightly golden.’
- ‘The onion rings had a charming light batter on them, but the frozen French fries were poor.’
- ‘Melt half the butter in a shallow pan and cook the onion till soft and tender, stirring from time to time.’
- ‘Warm the oil in a shallow pan then cook the onions, chillies and garlic till soft but not coloured.’
- ‘Top and tail the green beans, peel the baby onions or cut the spring onion into 2.5cm pieces.’
- ‘The onions taste like they have been put in raw so there is a definite bitter taste.’
- ‘Get a nice big frying pan and fry both onion and bacon in the olive oil until the onions are soft, about five or six minutes or so.’
- ‘Warm the olive oil in a shallow pan, peel and finely slice the onion and let it cook slowly in the oil with the bay leaf.’
- ‘The dish is filled with layers of browned lamb or mutton chops and layers of onions and thickly sliced potatoes.’
- ‘To relieve the tension we joked about going home to the smell of grilled onions and peppers.’
2The plant that produces the onion, with long rolled or straplike leaves and spherical heads of greenish-white flowers.
Allium cepa, family Liliaceae (or Alliaceae)
- ‘One of the oldest known herbs, garlic, is grown like an onion until the tops yellow and fall over.’
- ‘Bend over the leaves of spring-sown onions just above the neck of each bulb, to help the ripening process.’
- ‘I used to grow large acreages of potatoes, onions, and soy beans, along with maize.’
- ‘Plant it among the cabbages and with onions and carrots to repel carrot fly.’
- ‘Well I didn't get around to planting the onions last night, but I did dig up the second potato barrel.’
- ‘I was picking carrots and onions from the ground and had to strip off the leaves because it was basil.’
- ‘I've also bought some more tubs, so should finally be able to plant the rest of the onions tomorrow.’
know one's onions
informal Be very knowledgeable about something.
- ‘As adults, we might know our onions but can't be fagged to do it.’
- ‘I'm sure the anthropological brainiacs at the University of Wisconsin, where the research was carried out, know their onions, but I wouldn't count talking about yourself as gossip at all.’
- ‘When it comes to real ales and strong continental lagers the landlord really knows his onions, having been lured away from the Fat Cat in Norwich, a pub which wins major awards every single year.’
- ‘There's room here for a few mavericks, including Canadian and Argentine labels, and - should you not know your onions - the young and friendly staff are happy to pass on their own top tips.’
- ‘And you need to know your onions when you tackle Beethoven, even before you get to the details of the music.’
Middle English: from Old French oignon, based on Latin unio(n-), denoting a kind of onion.
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