A yam is a starchy vegetable that grows underground. Yams are similar to potatoes — they can be baked, boiled, mashed, grated, or cut into chunks.

In North America, a yam is the same thing as a sweet potato, although in most parts of the world these words refer to two completely different vegetables. Yams have flesh that ranges in color from white to deep orange and tastes slightly sweet. The word yam started as igname, from the Portuguese inhame, from a West African source.

Definitions of yam

n any of a number of tropical vines of the genus Dioscorea many having edible tuberous roots

yam plant
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Dioscorea alata, water yam, white yam
grown in Australasia and Polynesia for its large root with fine edible white flesh
Chinese yam, Dioscorea batata, cinnamon vine
hardy Chinese vine naturalized in United States and cultivated as an ornamental climber for its glossy heart-shaped cinnamon-scented leaves and in the tropics for its edible tubers
Dioscorea bulbifera, air potato
yam of tropical Africa and Asia cultivated for it large tubers
Dioscorea trifida, cush-cush
tropical American yam with small yellow edible tubers
Type of:
a plant with a weak stem that derives support from climbing, twining, or creeping along a surface

n edible tuberous root of various yam plants of the genus Dioscorea grown in the tropics world-wide for food

Type of:
root vegetable
any of various fleshy edible underground roots or tubers

n edible tuber of any of several yams

Type of:
a fleshy underground stem or root serving for reproductive and food storage

n sweet potato with deep orange flesh that remains moist when baked

Type of:
sweet potato
the edible tuberous root of the sweet potato vine which is grown widely in warm regions of the United States

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