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Groundnut is an alternative name—used by botanists rather than consumers—for the ‘peanut’. Dating from the mid-eighteenth century, it alludes to the fact that its seedcase burrows down into the earth to ripen. Culinarily, the term is most commonly encountered in groundnut oil, a tasteless oil pressed from peanuts which is widely used in the catering industry, but it is probably forever tarred with the brush of the notorious Groundnut Scheme, an expensive but abortive plan set up by the British government in 1947 to grow peanuts in East Africa.

To American-speakers, the word groundnut denotes the small edible tuber of an American climbing plant, also of the pea family, the Apios tuberosa.

Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.

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