Word of the Day



1. a round vegetable with thin dry skin and many layers inside that tastes and smells very strong

Origin and usage

Hailing from the early 12th century, onion comes from the Anglo-French word ‘union’ and the Old French ‘oignon’ or ‘oingnon’. Both words originally derived from the Latin ‘unionem’, meaning oneness and unity, reflecting the closely layered parts of an onion.


The word onion is a noun referring to a vegetable with a strong distinctive smell and flavour. Each onion consists of many layers, all tightly packed in a rotund shape. The outside is usually brown, but there are red and white varieties. Onion can also signify the plant from which onions are harvested, which has long stems and a head of small cream flowers.

Onions have been essential to food dishes and cuisines all around the globe for centuries, but experts are still unsure of where onions originated. Many people believe that onions came from central Asia whereas other professionals have argued that onions were first grown in the area around West Pakistan and Iran. Whatever the origin of this highly versatile food source, it is certain that human beings have consumed onions for thousands of years and many ancient texts refer to this incredible vegetable in areas as far apart as China, Egypt and Greece.

In addition to this, onions have many health benefits and can reduce the risk of ailments such as heart disease, obesity and cancer.


“Opinions are like onions. They spell similarly, usually have many layers, and tend to make people cry.”

(Caitlyn Paige)

“The onion and its satin wrappings is among the most beautiful of vegetables and is the only one that represents the essence of things. It can be said to have a soul.”

(Charles Dudley Warner)

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary is an award-winning, one-stop reference for English learners and speakers around the world.

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