Word of the Day


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a fungus that usually has a short stem and a round top. Some mushrooms can be eaten, but many are poisonous.

Origin and usage

The word mushroom is likely derived from the French word ‘mousse’ meaning ‘moss’. Its exact origin, however, is not known. Mushroom first appeared in English during the middle of the 15th century.


Mushroom refers to a soft fungus that grows above the ground on short stems and has a rounded top. Sometimes called ‘toadstools’, mushrooms typically grow in dark, damp places.

Many mushroom varieties are edible, including white button, portobello, crimini and shiitake mushrooms. These edible types are used extensively in many Asian and European cuisines. Some mushroom varieties, however, are highly toxic and should never be eaten.

Most mushrooms sold commercially in supermarkets are grown on farms where conditions are tightly controlled to ensure safe, high-quality produce. Foraging for wild mushrooms is a popular pastime, but care must be taken to avoid harvesting poisonous mushrooms. There is no single feature that distinguishes a potentially deadly mushroom from a safe one. Only those with extensive knowledge of wild mushroom varieties should collect these plants.

In addition to providing food, some mushroom varieties have medicinal properties and other uses, including dyeing textiles, as fire-starters and filtering contaminated water.


“I’m a mushroom freak. I make a mushroom soup where I use maybe six or seven varieties, not just portobello and shiitake, but dried porcini and morels.”
(Itzhak Perlman)

“Never crowd a pan with too many mushrooms. They give off an enormous amount of moisture. And there’s nothing worse than a braised mushroom, other than a lot of braised mushrooms.”
(Simon Schama)


button mushroom, toadstool
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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