Definition of yam in English:



  • 1The edible starchy tuber of a climbing plant, widely distributed in tropical and subtropical countries.

    • ‘The traditional Polynesian foodstuffs of taro (a starchy root), yams, and breadfruit were not well adapted for cultivation on the temperate islands of New Zealand.’
    • ‘To escape the fighting, his family fled from their village on the coast to live in the interior where they survived on wild yams, opossums and edible ferns.’
    • ‘These exotic products include lychees, fresh coriander, orca, pak choi, fresh curry leaves and unusual vegetables such as yams, daikon and bitter gourd.’
    • ‘Oh, and they replaced knowledgable produce staff with people who couldn't tell me the difference between a sweet potato and a yam.’
    • ‘In Côte d' Ivoire, grains such as millet, maize, and rice and tubers such as yams and cassava make up most meals.’
    • ‘In many countries, it is cultivated for its starchy tubers, sometimes called air potatoes or Chinese yams.’
    • ‘Truth be told, yams are an entirely different vegetable - one grown in Africa and Asia - that has absolutely no relation to sweet potatoes.’
    • ‘As Lihirian women were not participants in traditional exchanges, the model they work with is that of the male lineage or clan leader who is the organiser at feasts and takes on the main role of distributor of pigs and yams.’
    • ‘The tuber from the wing-stalked yam is a valuable source of diosgenin.’
    • ‘I have to contend with Thai-roasted pheasant with sweet yams and shitake mushrooms, balanced precariously on a writhing pepper and black bean sauce.’
    • ‘And the vegetables began where the pawpaw ended: yams, potatoes, onions, garlic.’
    • ‘In Kitava, food staples included cultivated tubers (e.g., yams, sweet potatoes, taro); less fish was consumed in Kitava than in Atafu.’
    • ‘Some yams produce many small tubers, no larger than potatoes.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, Jamaican cuisine in general has been getting lighter and more healthful, relying less on coconut oil and starchy yams, cassava, and breadfruit.’
    • ‘The bacon wrapping permeated the meat beautifully, and the rich wine peppercorn sauce, yams, broccoli and potato were fine accompaniments.’
    • ‘Although the terms are often used interchangeably, a true yam and a sweet potato not only belong to different families, but they also stem from different continents.’
    • ‘Trucks selling yams, widely used as a tonic, can be seen along the provincial highway in Nantou County.’
    • ‘True yams are a starchy tuber that is a staple crop in many parts of the tropics; they are seldom grown in the United States.’
    • ‘Forest crops, such as plantain, cassava, cocoyam, and tropical yams, predominate in the south.’
    • ‘‘APPALAMS’, RICE, eggs, potatoes, yams, bottle guards and tamarind are not only edibles.’
  • 2The plant that yields the yam.

    • ‘The staple food is the sweet potato, introduced from Indonesia about 300 years ago; other crops are yams, bananas, taro, sugar cane and greens of various kinds.’
    • ‘They also grow corn, yams, millet, sorghum, beans, wheat, buckwheat, fruit, cotton, tobacco, peanuts, sun-flowers, and other crops.’
    • ‘Men clear the bush and plant the yams with the help of the women and the children.’
    • ‘Within the Eurasian-African trading system, some plants and animals had been moved from their native ranges during ancient and classical times (horses, yams, bananas, rice).’
    • ‘In certain regions corn, rice, groundnuts, vegetables, and yams are cultivated.’
    • ‘Traditional rural staples are sweet potatoes, manioc, yams, corn, rice, pigeon peas, cowpeas, bread, and coffee.’
    • ‘They grow wet rice and dry-field crops (cassava, corn, yams, peanuts, and soybeans).’
    • ‘Some 2,000 years ago, crops such as bananas, yams, rice, and coconuts reached east Africa from southeast Asia.’
    • ‘Niueans cultivate both root crops such as talo, yams, and tapioca, and tree crops such as coconut, breadfruit, papaya, and mango, as well as bananas.’
    • ‘While the country's fertile highlands yield staple foods like yams and cereal grains, the semi-arid lowlands are largely rocky.’
    • ‘They also grow taro and yams, bananas, ginger, tobacco and colorful cucumbers.’
    • ‘Average life expectancy is 54; malaria, yellow fever and other diseases are rampant; and much of the population is engaged in subsistence farming of rice, yams and bananas.’
    • ‘Other agricultural products include bananas, coconuts, yams, and sugar cane.’
    • ‘After the Week of Peace, Okonkwo and his family prepared their fields and planted their yams.’
    • ‘Their gardens yielded arrow-root, beans, cassava, cucumbers, melons, maize, and yams; for fruit they cultivated the guava, mammee, papaw and star-apple.’
    • ‘A severe drought killed the first four hundred yams that he had planted from his own stores of a small crop the previous year.’
    • ‘Wives help their husbands plant yams and harvest corn, beans, and cotton.’
    • ‘Betel nuts, coconuts, rice, yams and the xylophone stretch right across west Africa, but had Indonesian origins.’
    • ‘Interviews with villagers who have gardens in the same areas but do not report smaller yams or poor crops yielded another interpretation.’
    • ‘This is where Governor Arthur Phillip planted his big yams, creating Australia's first veggie patch 200 years ago.’
    • ‘The fertile soil of the valleys produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including citrus, sugarcane, watermelons, bananas, yams, and beans.’
    • ‘Most people support themselves through subsistence farming, growing rice, yams, cassava, bananas, and palm oil nuts.’
  • 3North American A sweet potato.

    • ‘Instead, it had roasted beets, zucchini, onions, yams and red peppers, with mustard and romano cheese, on a high-quality baguette.’
    • ‘These days you can just about guarantee that any yams you see in your grocery store are really sweet potatoes.’
    • ‘The remainder should come mostly from complex-carbohydrate foods, such as brown rice, yams, oatmeal, vegetables and high-fiber fruits.’
    • ‘Excellent carb sources include fruit, vegetables and complex, slow-burning foods such as oatmeal, yams, potatoes and brown rice.’
    • ‘Trade your spuds in for Japanese sweet potatoes, Jersey Sweets (also called white sweet potatoes) or red garnets or jewel yams, which provide more nutritional bang for your buck.’
    • ‘And while yams are dry and starchy and can make a good chip, they contain little to no beta-carotene or vitamin A, and so are less nutritious.’
    • ‘Eat a variety of rice, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, yams, potatoes and pastas.’
    • ‘Broccoli spears, zucchini, asparagus, white onion, red peppers and yams hiding beneath paperweight layers of golden batter are like presents waiting to be unwrapped, bite by delicious bite.’
    • ‘Low-glycemic carbs include oatmeal, buckwheat noodles, buckwheat pancakes, red potatoes, yams, cherries and oranges.’
    • ‘The vegetables generally sold as yams in supermarkets here are moist, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, such as the red skinned Garnet and the brown-skinned Jewel.’
    • ‘On this diet, the bulk of my carbs should come from oats, brown rice and yams.’
    • ‘They occur naturally in such foods as dark-green leafy vegetables and orange, yellow, and red foods, such as yams and carrots.’
    • ‘Try foods that contain vitamin A and beta carotene, such as carrots, yams and cantaloupe.’
    • ‘The Pilgrims dined on heaps of freshly killed turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, radishes, apple pie, and a multitude of other treats on sturdy, rugged tables built especially for the occasion.’
    • ‘Instead of having one portion each of yams, potatoes and stuffing - have an extra slice of turkey.’
    • ‘Foods high in beta-carotene: these include yellow-orange vegetables such as carrots, yams, squash, pumpkin, paprika, cayenne pepper and turnips.’
    • ‘By eating a range of other complex carbs, such as yams, oatmeal, potatoes, pasta and whole-grain breads, you will still be covering your bases.’
    • ‘Foods like yams and cantaloupe that tend to be high in beta-carotene are other beneficial additions to your diet.’
    • ‘Although the focus is on protein, don't neglect carbs, particularly complex sources such as potatoes, yams, rice and vegetables.’
    • ‘Fiber - found in veggies, fruit, beans, oats, and in the skin of yams and potatoes - can dramatically slow the delivery of carbs into the bloodstream.’
    • ‘Rural villages on high islands are located within a short distance of both the sea and extensive family gardens devoted to taro, yam, sweet potato, or cassava cultivation.’
    • ‘The same goes for bags of Trader Joe's Diced Harvest Medley (turnips, yams, and butternut squash) or other chains' cut-and-ready-to-cook vegetables.’
    • ‘Instead, choose slower-burning carbs, such as red potatoes, yams, brown rice, pasta and buckwheat noodles.’
    • ‘For the lobster noodles: In a food processor combine the lobster meat, egg white, potato starch, and yam.’


Late 16th century: from Portuguese inhame or obsolete Spanish iñame, probably of West African origin.