: the edible starchy tuberous root of various plants (genus Dioscorea of the family Dioscoreaceae) used as a staple food in tropical areas
also : a plant producing yams
: a moist usually orange-fleshed sweet potato

Examples of yam in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web What's the difference between purple sweet potatoes and purple yams? Christopher Michel, Country Living, 30 Aug. 2023 Advertisement Ube is a naturally purple yam that’s often used in Philippine desserts. Samantha Chery, Washington Post, 31 July 2023 There are also smoked turkey legs with mac and cheese, collards and roasted peppers, and braised short rib in a blueberry glaze atop a bed of garnet yam puree. Phillip Valys, Sun Sentinel, 31 Mar. 2023 Guess Usain Bolt has allowed athletes other than sprinters to reap the remarkable fruit of his yam farm. San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Aug. 2023 Sweet potatoes and candied yams are two different plants, but sweet potatoes are sometimes mistakenly labeled or called yams. Pam Lolley, Southern Living, 7 July 2023 Ube Mochi Made of purple yams and sweet rice dough, ube mochi joins the list of returning frozen treats at the end of June. Antonia Debianchi, Peoplemag, 27 June 2023 The dessert only debuts around Thanksgiving and includes a honey cornbread cupcake, candied yams frosting on top, with a piece of chicken pinned to the frosting and a drizzle of honey. Cody D. Short | Cshort@al.com, al, 9 June 2023 The store also sells coconut salad, a Filipino dish that combines coconut and other foods, and cake in a cup with cake bread and goodies like purple yams or mangos, Bautista said. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'yam.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


earlier iname, from Portuguese inhame & Spanish ñame, of African origin; akin to Fulani nyami to eat

First Known Use

1657, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of yam was in 1657

Dictionary Entries Near yam

Cite this Entry

“Yam.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yam. Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


: an edible starchy root that is an important food in tropical areas
also : a plant producing yams
: a sweet potato with moist usually orange flesh

More from Merriam-Webster on yam

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