There are 2 main definitions of yam in English:

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yam 1

Pronunciation: /yam/


1The edible starchy tuber of a climbing plant, widely distributed in tropical and subtropical countries.
Example sentences
  • Trucks selling yams, widely used as a tonic, can be seen along the provincial highway in Nantou County.
  • True yams are a starchy tuber that is a staple crop in many parts of the tropics; they are seldom grown in the United States.
  • The tuber from the wing-stalked yam is a valuable source of diosgenin.
2The plant that yields the yam.
  • Genus Dioscorea, family Dioscoreaceae: many species
Example sentences
  • Men clear the bush and plant the yams with the help of the women and the children.
  • They also grow taro and yams, bananas, ginger, tobacco and colorful cucumbers.
  • In certain regions corn, rice, groundnuts, vegetables, and yams are cultivated.
3North American A sweet potato.
Example sentences
  • These days you can just about guarantee that any yams you see in your grocery store are really sweet potatoes.
  • The vegetables generally sold as yams in supermarkets here are moist, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, such as the red skinned Garnet and the brown-skinned Jewel.
  • Trade your spuds in for Japanese sweet potatoes, Jersey Sweets (also called white sweet potatoes) or red garnets or jewel yams, which provide more nutritional bang for your buck.


Late 16th century: from Portuguese inhame or obsolete Spanish iñame, probably of West African origin.

Words that rhyme with yam

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There are 2 main definitions of yam in English:

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yam 2

Pronunciation: /jam/

Entry from British & World English dictionary


[no object] Irish & Scottish
(Of a cat) miaow: a cat slips up the driveway, yamming and trying to talk
More example sentences
  • Two cats took up station outside my window and the pair of them went on yamming the whole night.
  • In the most still minute of the night, you wake and wonder: was that a cat yamming?
  • The kitten looked up at her and yammed.
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