General English


  • noun a tuber of Solanum tuberosum, one of the most important starchy root crops. Apart from being grown for human consumption, potatoes also are used to produce alcohol and starch, and are used as stock feed.


  • One of the commonest and most versatile of vegetables which is the swollen tip of an underground stem of the plant Solanum tuberosum, used as a store of starch to support the growth of new stems from the eyes. The two main types are floury and waxy, distinguished by the cohesiveness of the tissues. Waxy potatoes are less dense than floury and will float in a brine of 1 part salt to 11 parts water. Stem end blackening due to the reaction of compounds in the potato with iron during cooking can be minimized by boiling with acidulated water (0.5 tsp of cream of tartar per pint). Common varieties of waxy potatoes in the UK are Arran Comet, Ulster Sceptre, Maris bard, Pentland Javelin, Alcmaria and Romano and of floury potatoes, Desirée, Estima, Home Guard, Kerrs Pink, king Edward, Maris Peer, Maris Piper, Pentland Dell, and Pentland Squire.


  • noun a vegetable that grows from the roots of a plant, has a brown skin and white flesh, and can be eaten boiled, roasted, fried or baked

Origin & History of “potato”

Potato was originally the English name for the ‘sweet potato’ (when Falstaff in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor 1598 cried ‘Let the sky rain potatoes!’ it was to the sweet potato, and its supposed aphrodisiac properties, that he was referring). It did not begin to be used for the vegetable we now know as the potato until the very end of the 16th century. The word comes via Spanish patata from batata, the name for the ‘sweet potato’ in the Taino language of Haiti and other Caribbean islands.