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90s Slang You Should Know


[yam] /yæm/
the starchy, tuberous root of any of various climbing vines of the genus Dioscorea, cultivated for food in warm regions.
any of these plants.
Scot. potato (def 1).
Origin of yam
Jamaican English
1580-90; compare Gullah nyam, Jamaican English nyaams, Sranan jamsi < sources in one or more West African languages (compare Wolof nyam(nyam), Fulani nyami to eat, Twi εnãm flesh, ànyinam, ayam’kàw-dé kinds of yam; earlier E forms < Portuguese inhame or Spanish (i)ñame
Can be confused Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for yam
Contemporary Examples
  • The sorbet was tangy and was a tad tart while in the main course the pepper in the yam croquette brought it to life.

    What Harry Ate Tom Sykes March 14, 2012
Historical Examples
  • The block itself is the tuber of a sort of yam, which grows above ground instead of below.

    Omphalos Philip Henry Gosse
  • The crops grown were the “taro,” “hue” (gourd), “uwhi” (yam), and “kumara.”

  • At this station, too, we came upon a curious tuber which seemed to be cousin to the yam and the Irish potato.

    On the Mexican Highlands William Seymour Edwards
  • "I give you that," said Tute (Cook), and from that day this kind of yam was called the Kivi.

    Savage Island Basil C. Thomson
  • For a month or two before this the mother has been in the habit of giving it a slushy mess of yam to prepare it for solid food.

    The Fijians Basil Thomson
  • This name in modern dialects designates the yam and the potato.

    Origin of Cultivated Plants Alphonse De Candolle
  • The yam season being over, and the copra trade at a standstill, we gave up the cutter and settled for a while on shore.

    A Modern Buccaneer Rolf Boldrewood
  • It consisted of baked plantain and yam, and was smoking hot.

  • Many of them live for the remainder of the year on a kind of yam, which grows wild, and is called Erula root.

British Dictionary definitions for yam


any of various twining plants of the genus Dioscorea, of tropical and subtropical regions, cultivated for their edible tubers: family Dioscoreaceae
the starchy tuber of any of these plants, which is eaten as a vegetable
(Southern US) any of certain large varieties of sweet potato
a former Scot name for the (common) potato
Word Origin
C17: from Portuguese inhame, ultimately of West African origin; compare Senegal nyami to eat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for yam

1580s, from Portuguese inhame or Spanish igname, from a West African language (cf. Fulani nyami "to eat;" Twi anyinam "species of yam"); the word in American and Jamaican English probably is directly from West African sources.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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