Definition of sesame in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsɛsəmi/


[mass noun]
1A tall annual herbaceous plant of tropical and subtropical areas of the Old World, cultivated for its oil-rich seeds.
  • Sesamum indicum, family Pedaliaceae.
Example sentences
  • Maize and sesame are common in the irrigated farms along the Wabe Sha ile River.
  • Most of the crops are from dry land including groundnuts, sunflower, green gram, sesame and soya.
  • The farmers in the village grew ragi, cow pea, pigeon pea, green gram, jowar, horse gram and sesame.
1.1 (sesame seed) The edible seeds of the sesame plant, which are used whole or have the oil extracted.
Example sentences
  • I look at the people in the cars all being served with processed meat on sesame seed buns.
  • Pour black sesame seeds into one small shallow bowl and white seeds into another.
  • It packs a powerful yet sensual punch, thanks to a blend of mint leaf, sesame seed and hazel wood.


Late Middle English: via Latin from Greek sēsamon, sēsamē; compare with Arabic simsim.

  • One of the stories told in the Arabian Nights is that of ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves'. Ali Baba gains access to the robbers’ cave by saying the magic words ‘open sesame!’, at which the door flies open. This and the other Arabic tales in the collection were published in French in the early 18th century and were quickly translated into English. This gave a new lease of life to, and fixed the form of, sesame as the name of a plant with oil-rich seeds, which had appeared occasionally since the later Middle Ages in a variety of spellings. The word itself is recorded in Greek as sēsamon or sēsamē, but is probably connected to Arabic simsim. Since the early 19th century an open sesame has meant an easy way of securing access to what would normally be inaccessible.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ses¦ame

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