lentil

lentil
/len"til, -tl/, n.
1. a plant, Lens culinaris, of the legume family, having flattened, biconvex seeds used as food.
2. the seed itself.
[1200-50; ME < OF lentille < VL *lenticula for L lenticula. See LENTICLE]

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Small annual legume (Lens esculenta) and its lens-shaped, protein-rich, edible seed.

One of the most ancient of cultivated foods, it is a good source of vitamin B, iron, and phosphorus. Of unknown origin, the lentil is widely cultivated throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa; though little grown in the Western Hemisphere, its inclusion in the U.S. diet is increasing. Growing 6–18 in. (15–45 cm) high, the plant has compound leaves and pale blue flowers. Animals are fed the stalks and leaves as fodder.

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plant
      (species Lens esculenta), small annual legume of the pea family (Leguminosae) and its lens-shaped edible seed, which is rich in protein and one of the most ancient of cultivated foods. Of unknown origin, the lentil is widely cultivated throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa but is little grown in the Western Hemisphere. The seeds are used chiefly in soups and the herbage as fodder. Lentils are a good source of protein, vitamin B, iron, and phosphorus.

      The plant varies from 15 to 45 cm (6 to 18 inches) in height and has many long, ascending branches. The leaves are alternate, with six pairs of oblong-linear leaflets about 15 mm (0.5 inch) long and ending in a spine. Two to four pale blue flowers are borne in the axils of the leaves in June or early July. The pods are about 15–20 mm long, broadly oblong, and slightly inflated and contain two seeds the shape of a doubly convex lens and about 4–6 mm in diameter. There are many cultivated varieties of the plant, differing in size, hairiness, and colour of the leaves, flowers, and seeds. The seeds may be more or less compressed in shape, and the colour may vary from yellow or gray to dark brown; they are also sometimes mottled or speckled.

      The lentil has been found in the lake dwellings of St. Peter's Island, Lake Biel, Switz., dating from the Bronze Age. The red pottage of lentils for which Esau sold his birthright (Genesis 25:30–34) probably was made from the red Egyptian lentil. This lentil is cultivated in one or another variety in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe along the Mediterranean coast and as far north as Germany, The Netherlands, and France. In Egypt, Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries, the parched seeds are sold in shops and are esteemed the best food to carry on long journeys.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lentil — Len til (l[e^]n t[i^]l), n. [F. lentille, fr. L. lenticula, dim. of lens, lentis, lentil. Cf. {Lens}.] (Bot.) A leguminous plant of the genus {Ervum} ({Ervum Lens}), of small size, common in the fields in Europe. Also, its seed, which is used for …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lentil — mid 13c., from O.Fr. lentille lentil, also freckle, from L. lenticula, dim. of L. lens (gen. lentis) lentil, cognate with Gk. lathyros, Ger. linse, O.C.S. lД™ЕЎta …   Etymology dictionary

  • LENTIL — (Heb. עֲדָשָׁה, adashah, pl. עֲדָשִׁים, adashim), the legume Lens esculenta, one of the earliest of the flora of Israel. Remains dating to over 3,000 years ago have been discovered in excavations and in Egyptian tombs of the 12th dynasty as food… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • lentil — ► NOUN ▪ a high protein pulse which is dried and then soaked and cooked prior to eating. ORIGIN Latin lenticula, from lens lentil …   English terms dictionary

  • lentil — [lent′ l] n. [ME < OFr lentille < L lenticula, dim. of lens, lentil] 1. an Old World plant (Lens culinaris) of the pea family with small, edible seeds shaped like biconvex lenses 2. the seed of this plant …   English World dictionary

  • Lentil — This article is about the species Lens culinaris. For the meaning of lentil in Indian English, see pulse (legume). For the toor (sometimes called lentil in Indian English), see pigeon pea. Lentil Lentils …   Wikipedia

  • lentil — UK [ˈlentɪl] / US [ˈlent(ə)l] noun [countable] Word forms lentil : singular lentil plural lentils a round flat seed that you boil before you eat it. You normally buy lentils in dried form …   English dictionary

  • lentil — noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo French lentille, from Latin lenticula, diminutive of lent , lens Date: 13th century 1. a widely cultivated Eurasian annual leguminous plant (Lens culinaris) with flattened edible seeds and leafy stalks… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • lentil — [[t]le̱ntɪl[/t]] lentils N COUNT: usu pl Lentils are the seeds of a lentil plant. They can be dried and used to make soups and stews …   English dictionary

  • lentil — len·til || lentl n. plant belonging to the legume family; round flattened seed produced by the lentil plant and used for food …   English contemporary dictionary

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