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[ses-uh-mee] /ˈsɛs ə mi/
a tropical, herbaceous plant, Sesamum indicum, whose small oval seeds are edible and yield an oil.
the seeds themselves, used to add flavor to bread, crackers, etc.
Also called benne (for defs 1, 2).
Origin of sesame
late Middle English
1400-50; < Greek sēsámē sesame plant ≪ Akkadian shamashshammū, derived from shaman shammī plant oil; replacing sesam, late Middle English sysane < Latin sēsamum < Greek sḗsamon sesame seed Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sesame
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • sesame has long been cultivated in the hot regions of the old world for the sake of the oil extracted from the seeds.

    Origin of Cultivated Plants Alphonse De Candolle
  • Now Nos. 28 and 29 are the premises of the sesame Club for ladies.

    Mayfair, Belgravia, and Bayswater Geraldine Edith Mitton
  • Herodotus1396 tells us that Babylonia grew no olive trees, and that its inhabitants made use of oil of sesame.

    Origin of Cultivated Plants Alphonse De Candolle
  • Every day he gave her a tablet upon which "sesame" was written.

    The Drunkard Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • If the farmer does not produce grain or sesame in his field, he shall not alter his contract.

    Archology and the Bible George A. Barton
British Dictionary definitions for sesame


a tropical herbaceous plant, Sesamum indicum, of the East Indies, cultivated, esp in India, for its small oval seeds: family Pedaliaceae
the seeds of this plant, used in flavouring bread and yielding an edible oil (benne oil or gingili)
Also called benne, gingili, til
Word Origin
C15: from Latin sēsamum, from Greek sēsamon, sēsamē, of Semitic origin; related to Arabic simsim
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sesame

early 15c., probably from Middle French sisame and directly from Latin sesamum (nominative sesama), from Greek sesamon (Doric sasamon) "seed or fruit of the sesame plant," a very early borrowing via Phoenician from Late Babylonian *shawash-shammu (cf. Assyrian shamash-shammu "sesame," literally "oil-seed"). First as a magic password in 1785 translation of Galland's "Mille et une nuits," where it opens the door of the thieves' den in "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves." Phrase open sesame current since about 1826.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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