from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A bulbous plant (Allium cepa) cultivated worldwide as a vegetable.
  • n. The rounded edible bulb of this plant, composed of fleshy, tight, concentric leaf bases having a pungent odor and taste.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A monocotyledonous plant of genus Allium allied to garlic, used as vegetable and spice.
  • n. The bulb of such a plant.
  • n. The genus as a whole.
  • n. A ball.
  • n. A person from Bermuda or of Bermudian descent.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A liliaceous plant of the genus Allium (Allium cepa), having a strong-flavored bulb and long hollow leaves; also, its bulbous root, much used as an article of food. The name is often extended to other species of the genus.
  • n. The flavor of an onion{1}.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An esculent plant, Allium Cepa (see Allium), especially its bulbous root, the part chiefly used as food.
  • To affect by or with onions: To flavor with onions.
  • To rub with onion; produce by the presence of onion, as tears.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the bulb of an onion plant
  • n. bulbous plant having hollow leaves cultivated worldwide for its rounded edible bulb
  • n. an aromatic flavorful vegetable


Middle English oinyon, from Old French oignon, from Latin uniō, uniōn-.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English onyon, union, oinyon, from Anglo-Norman union et al. and Old French oignon, from Latin ūniōnem, accusative of ūniō ("onion, large pearl") (probably from ūnus ("one"), but perhaps compare Hittite wašḫar ("garlic"), Sanskrit उष्ण (uṣṇa, "onion"), Pashto ووږه (ūža, "garlic"), Khowar wǝẓnū ("garlic")). Displaced the inherited term ramsons. (Wiktionary)



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  • "Know, also, the celebrated formulary of the onion. It is a great panacea of many distempers. Roasted under hot ash, after the embers have died, and blended with honey and rue, the electuary breaks tough phlegm, palliates gripes, acts as a laxative in the day and an astringent by night, purges the head of noises and clears the blood. The same vegetable, bruised and scrambled in syrup of the ripe red pomegranate, and mixed with laudanum, that is sublimed by slow fire, is right good for horror dreams of the young. The onion is an opener, and if cooked in jackets of corn-flour dough, and eaten with sea-dust and pepper to taste, it promotes the courses, dissolves the tumours, clears the complexion, and softens chapped hands. It is the king of medicaments, my dear."

    - G.V. Desani, All About H. Hatterr, (1945), pp. 212-213 of NYRB 2008 edition.

    January 1, 2009