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[leg-yoom, li-gyoom] /ˈlɛg yum, lɪˈgyum/
any plant of the legume family, especially those used for feed, food, or as a soil-improving crop.
the pod or seed vessel of such a plant.
any table vegetable of the legume family.
1670-80; < French légume vegetable < Latin legūmen pulse, a leguminous plant, derivative of legere to gather
Related forms
nonlegume, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for legumes
  • By the holiday the seeds or legumes will have shoots several inches long, providing a powerful symbol of rebirth.
  • legumes that are harvested for their dry seeds, such as beans or lentils, are called pulses.
  • Not food products made from heavily processed and refined grains and legumes that our ancient ancestors didn't eat.
  • For many diners who enjoy beans, the side effects can be somewhat unpleasant--the legumes are notorious for causing flatulence.
  • People have achieved great longevities in societies that ate starches, legumes and grains with little or no heart disease.
  • The best known examples are lichens, mycorrhizae, and legumes.
  • legumes, too, are much more nutritious with fermentation.
  • There are stalls entirely devoted to mollusks, and others consecrated to legumes of every color and shape.
  • Nitrogen-packed foodstuffs typically include dry grains and legumes.
  • Good sources are legumes, beans, fruits and vegetables.
British Dictionary definitions for legumes


/ˈlɛɡjuːm; lɪˈɡjuːm/
the long dry dehiscent fruit produced by leguminous plants; a pod
any table vegetable of the family Fabaceae (formerly Leguminosae), esp beans or peas
any leguminous plant
Word Origin
C17: from French légume, from Latin legūmen bean, from legere to pick (a crop)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for legumes



plant of the group of the pulse family, 1670s, from French légume (16c.), from Latin legumen "pulse, leguminous plant," of unknown origin. One suggestion ties it to Latin legere "to gather" (see lecture (n.)), because they can be scooped by the handful. Used in Middle English in the Latin form legumen (late 14c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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legumes in Science
  (lěg'ym', lə-gym')   
  1. Any of a large number of eudicot plants belonging to the family Leguminosae (or Fabaceae). Their characteristic fruit is a seed pod. Legumes live in a symbiotic relationship with bacteria in structures called nodules on their roots. These bacteria are able to take nitrogen from the air, which is in a form that plants cannot use, and convert it into compounds that the plants can use. Many legumes are widely cultivated for food, as fodder for livestock, and as a means of improving the nitrogen content of soils. Beans, peas, clover, alfalfa, locust trees, and acacia trees are all legumes.

  2. The seed pod of such a plant.

leguminous adjective
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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