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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- ‘The dish is filled with layers of browned lamb or mutton chops and layers of onions and thickly sliced potatoes.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Fork through the remaining butter with the peas, then spoon on to a warmed platter in a mound and scatter over the onion rings.’
- ‘Heat the olive oil and gently cook the onions in a good solid saucepan for five minutes.’
- ‘Sweat the onion and diced vegetables in a little olive oil, they should soften and turn golden without browning.’
- ‘Top and tail the green beans, peel the baby onions or cut the spring onion into 2.5cm pieces.’
- ‘Add the leeks and onions and cook half an hour or until lightly browned and soft.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion, ginger and cumin seeds for 5 min.’
- ‘Cook the onions and red pepper in the oil for 10 minutes or until softened.’
- ‘Heat the olive oil and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes, or until lightly golden.’
- ‘Fry the onion in the olive oil in a large frying pan, stirring occasionally, until it begins to colour.’
- ‘Warm the oil in a shallow pan then cook the onions, chillies and garlic till soft but not coloured.’
- ‘The onion rings had a charming light batter on them, but the frozen French fries were poor.’
- ‘Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot, and cook the onion for five minutes.’
- ‘In another saucepan cook the garlic and spring onions in the vegetable oil until the onion is soft but not brown.’
- ‘To relieve the tension we joked about going home to the smell of grilled onions and peppers.’
- ‘Heat up some olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions on medium heat for a few minutes.’
- ‘Melt half the butter in a shallow pan and cook the onion till soft and tender, stirring from time to time.’
- ‘The onions taste like they have been put in raw so there is a definite bitter taste.’
2The plant that produces the onion, with long rolled or straplike leaves and spherical heads of greenish-white flowers.
- ‘I was picking carrots and onions from the ground and had to strip off the leaves because it was basil.’
- ‘Plant it among the cabbages and with onions and carrots to repel carrot fly.’
- ‘Bend over the leaves of spring-sown onions just above the neck of each bulb, to help the ripening process.’
- ‘One of the oldest known herbs, garlic, is grown like an onion until the tops yellow and fall over.’
- ‘Well I didn't get around to planting the onions last night, but I did dig up the second potato barrel.’
- ‘I used to grow large acreages of potatoes, onions, and soy beans, along with maize.’
- ‘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.
- ‘And you need to know your onions when you tackle Beethoven, even before you get to the details of the music.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘As adults, we might know our onions but can't be fagged to do it.’
Middle English: from Old French oignon, based on Latin unio(n-), denoting a kind of onion.
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