the starchy, tuberous root of any of various climbing vines of the genus Dioscorea, cultivated for food in warm regions.
any of these plants.

Origin of yam

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 confusedcassava sweet potato yam
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for yam

Contemporary Examples of yam

  • The sorbet was tangy and was a tad tart while in the main course the pepper in the yam croquette brought it to life.

    The Daily Beast logo
    What Harry Ate

    Tom Sykes

    March 15, 2012

Historical Examples of yam

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 for yam

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

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