onionlike, adj.oniony, adj.
/un"yeuhn/, n.
1. a plant, Allium cepa, of the amaryllis family, having an edible, succulent, pungent bulb.
2. any of certain similar plants.
3. the bulb of the onion plant.
4. the flavor or odor of this bulb.
5. Slang. a person: He's a tough onion.
6. know one's onions, Slang. to know one's subject or business thoroughly; be capable or proficient.
7. containing or cooked with onions: onion soup.
8. of, pertaining to, or resembling an onion.
[1325-75; ME onyon < OF oignon < L union- (s. of unio) a unity, large pearl, onion; see UNION]

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Herbaceous biennial plant (Allium cepa) of the lily family, probably native to South Asia but now grown worldwide, and its edible bulb.

Among the hardiest and oldest garden-vegetable plants, onions bear a cluster of small, greenish white flowers on one or more leafless stalks. The leaf base swells to form the underground mature edible onion. Onions are pungent; because they contain a sulfur-rich volatile oil, peeling or slicing them can cause a person's eyes to tear. Onions vary in size, shape, colour, and pungency. Though low in standard nutrients, they are valued for their flavour. Onions have been claimed to cure colds, earaches, and laryngitis and have been used to treat animal bites, powder burns, and warts; like their close relative garlic, they are being studied for other suspected beneficial qualities. See also allium.

Onion (Allium cepa)

Walter Chandoha

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 (species Allium cepa), herbaceous biennial plant and its edible bulb. The onion is probably native to southwestern Asia but is now grown throughout the world, chiefly in the temperate zones. The plant belongs to the lily family, Liliaceae, most members of which have an underground storage system, such as a bulb or tuber. Other members of this family include such ornamental plants as the tulip, hyacinth, and lily-of-the-valley and also such edible plants as the leek, garlic, and chive.

      The common onion has one or more leafless stalks that reach a height of 0.75–1.8 m (2.5–6 feet) and terminate in a cluster of small greenish white flowers. The leaf bases of the developing plant swell to form the underground bulb that is the mature, edible onion. Most commercially cultivated onions are grown from the plant's small black seed, which is sown directly in the field, but onions may also be grown from small bulbs or from transplants. Onions are among the hardiest of all garden-vegetable plants.

      Onions are among the world's oldest cultivated plants. They were probably known in India, China, and the Middle East before recorded history. Ancient Egyptians regarded the spherical bulb as a symbol of the universe, and its name is probably derived from the Latin unus, meaning “one.” The Romans introduced the onion to Britain and, in the New World, American Indians added a highly pungent wild onion to their stews. Curative powers have been attributed to onions throughout the centuries; they have been recommended for such varied ailments as colds, earaches, laryngitis, animal bites, powder burns, and warts.

      Onions are used widely in cooking. They add flavour to such dishes as stews, roasts, soups, and salads, and are also served as a cooked vegetable. The onion's characteristic pungency results from the sulfur-rich volatile oil (essential oil) it contains. Release of this oil during peeling brings tears to the eyes, but many cooks claim that tears can be avoided by peeling onions under running water.

      Onions vary in size, shape, colour, and pungency. Warmer climates produce onions with a milder, sweeter flavour than do other climates.

      Globe-shaped onions may be white, yellow, or red. They have strong flavour and are used chiefly for soups, stews, and other prepared dishes and for frying.

      Bermuda onions are large and flat, with white or yellow colour and fairly mild taste. They are often cooked and may be stuffed, roasted, or French-fried. They are also sliced and used raw in salads and sandwiches.

      Spanish onions are large, sweet, and juicy, with colour ranging from yellow to red. Their flavour is mild, and they are used raw and sliced for salads and sandwiches and as a garnish.

      Italian onions are flat, with red colour and mild flavour. They are used raw for salads and sandwiches, and their red outer rings make an attractive garnish.

      Pearl onions are not a specific variety but are small, round, white onions harvested when 25 mm (1 inch) or less in diameter. They are usually pickled and used as a garnish and in cocktails. Small white onions that are picked when between 25 and 38 mm in diameter are used to flavour foods having fairly delicate taste, such as omelets and other egg dishes, sauces, and peas. They are also served boiled or baked.

      Green onions, also called scallions and spring onions, are young onions harvested when their tops are green and the underdeveloped bulbs are 13 mm or less in diameter. Their flavour is mild, and the entire onion, including top, stem, and bulb, is used raw in salads and sauces, as a garnish, and also as a seasoning for prepared dishes.

      Onions are low in nutrients but are valued for their flavour. Most whole onions are slightly dried before marketing, making their skins dry and paper-thin. Leading world producers of dry onions include China, India, the United States, Russia, Japan, and Turkey. Spain is the leading European producer.

      Onions are also available in various processed forms. Boiled and pickled onions are packed in cans or jars. Frozen onions are available chopped or whole, and bottled onion juice is sold for use as a flavouring.

      Dehydrated onion products have been available since the 1930s. Processing involves elimination of most of the moisture by heat or by freeze-drying. Such products include granulated, ground, minced, chopped, and sliced forms. Onion powder is made by grinding dehydrated onions and is sometimes packaged in combination with salt.

      Dried onion products are used in a variety of prepared foods. They are also sold directly to the consumer for use as condiments. The United States is the world's leading producer of dried onion products, and the state of California is a major producer of onions developed and cultivated for this industry.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • ONION — (Heb. בָּצָל), the Allium cepa, one of the earliest cultivated plants. It is mentioned only once in the Bible as one of the vegetables eaten in Egypt for which the Israelites longed when they were in the wilderness (Num. 11:5). Onion growing was… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Onion — On ion, n. [F. ognon, fr. L. unio oneness, unity, a single large pearl, an onion. See {One}, {Union}.] 1. (Bot.) A liliaceous plant of the genus {Allium} ({Allium cepa}), having a strong flavored bulb and long hollow leaves; also, its bulbous… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • .onion — Введение 2004 Тип домена псевдо домен верхнего уровня Статус действующий Регистратор Tor Назначение Обеспечение доступа к анонимным сервисам сети Tor …   Википедия

  • onion — (n.) early 12c., from Anglo Fr. union, O.Fr. oignon (formerly also oingnon), from L. unionem (nom. unio), colloquial rustic Roman for a kind of onion, also pearl (via notion of a string of onions), lit. one, unity; sense connection is the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • onion — [un′yən] n. [ME oynon < OFr oignon < L unio (gen. unionis), oneness, unity, also a kind of single onion: see UNION] 1. a plant (Allium cepa) of the lily family, having an edible bulb with a strong, sharp smell and taste 2. the bulb of this… …   English World dictionary

  • onion — см. Приложение 1 (Allium). (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • onion — onion. См. луки. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • onion — ► NOUN ▪ an edible bulb used as a vegetable, having a pungent taste and smell and composed of several concentric layers. ● know one s onions Cf. ↑know one s onions DERIVATIVES oniony adjective. ORIGIN Old French oignon, from Latin unio …   English terms dictionary

  • Onion — Onions redirects here. For the name and those bearing it, see Onions (surname). This article is about the plants. For other uses, see Onion (disambiguation). Onion Onions Scientific classification …   Wikipedia

  • .onion — Infobox Top level domain name=.onion background=#ADFF2F introduced=2004 type=Pseudo domain style host suffix status=Not in root, but used by Tor clients, servers, and proxies registry=Tor sponsor= intendeduse=To designate a hidden service… …   Wikipedia

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