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potato

[puh-tey-toh, -tuh]
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noun, plural po·ta·toes.
  1. Also called Irish potato, white potato. the edible tuber of a cultivated plant, Solanum tuberosum, of the nightshade family.
  2. the plant itself.
  3. sweet potato(defs 1, 2).
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Origin of potato

1545–55; < Spanish patata white potato, variant of batata sweet potato < Taino
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for potatoes

potato

noun plural -toes
  1. Also called: Irish potato, white potato
    1. a solanaceous plant, Solanum tuberosum, of South America: widely cultivated for its edible tubers
    2. the starchy oval tuber of this plant, which has a brown or red skin and is cooked and eaten as a vegetable
  2. any of various similar plants, esp the sweet potato
  3. hot potato slang a delicate or awkward matter
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Word Origin

C16: from Spanish patata white potato, from Taino batata sweet potato
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

Word Origin and History for potatoes

potato

n.

1560s, from Spanish patata, from a Carib language of Haiti batata "sweet potato." Sweet potatoes were first to be introduced to Europe; in cultivation in Spain by mid-16c.; in Virginia by 1648. Early 16c. Portuguese traders carried the crop to all their shipping ports and the sweet potato was quickly adopted from Africa to India and Java.

The name later (1590s) was extended to the common white potato, from Peru, which was at first (mistakenly) called Virginia potato, or, because at first it was of minor importance compared to the sweet potato, bastard potato. Spanish invaders in Peru began to use white potatoes as cheap food for sailors 1530s. The first potato from South America reached Pope Paul III in 1540; grown in France at first as an ornamental plant. According to popular tradition, introduced to Ireland 1565 by John Hawkins. Brought to England from Colombia by Sir Thomas Herriot, 1586.

German kartoffel (17c.) is a dissimilation from tartoffel, ultimately from Italian tartufolo (Vulgar Latin *territuberem), originally "truffle." Frederick II forced its cultivation on Prussian peasants in 1743. The French is pomme de terre, literally "earth-apple;" a Swedish dialectal word for "potato" is jordpäron, literally "earth-pear."

Colloquial pronunciation tater is attested in print from 1759. Potato chip (n.) attested from 1879. To drop (something) like a hot potato is from 1824. Children's counting-out rhyme that begins one potato, two potato first recorded 1885 in Canada. Slang potato trap "mouth" attested from 1785.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with potatoes

potato

see hot potato; meat and potatoes; small beer (potatoes).

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.