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peanut

peanut, name for a low, annual leguminous plant (Arachis hypogaea) of the family Leguminosae (pulse family) and for its edible seeds. Native to South America and cultivated there for millenia, it is said to have been introduced to Africa by early explorers, and Africans transported as slaves brought the plant with them to North America. In the United States it has been extensively cultivated only since the late 19th cent. It is now grown in most tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions, especially in India and China (the major world producers), W Africa, and the SE United States. The seeds—peanuts—are eaten fresh or roasted and are used in cookery and confectionery. They are ground for peanut butter, an important article of commerce, and yield an oil used for margarine, cooking oil, soap manufacture, and industrial purposes. The herbage is used for hay, the residue from oil extraction (called peanut-oil cakes) for stock feed, and the whole plant, left in the ground, as pasturage for swine. Peanut crops are usually harvested by hand except in the United States. Europe is the chief importer and processor, especially for oil manufacture. In the United States the amount of the crop converted to oil depends on the demand for whole peanuts; it is usually only 15% to 20%. Because of its numerous uses (George Washington Carver developed several hundred), high protein content, and adaptability to varying demand, the peanut is an advantageous agricultural crop. There are two types of peanut plant—bunch nuts and vine, or trailing, nuts—named for the way the plants grow. The peanut plant is unusual for its habit of geocarpy: when the pod starts to form, it is pushed into the ground by the elongation of its stalk and matures underground. Other names for the peanut are goober, pinder, earthnut, groundnut, and ground pea. Peanuts are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.

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peanut

pea·nut / ˈpēnət/ • n. 1. the oval seed of a South American plant, widely roasted and salted and eaten as a snack. ∎  (peanuts) inf. a paltry thing or amount, esp. a very small amount of money. ∎  a small person (often used as a term of endearment). ∎  (peanuts) small pieces of Styrofoam used for packing material. 2. the plant (Arachis hypogaea) of the pea family that bears these seeds, which develop in pods that ripen underground. It is widely cultivated, esp. in the southern US, and large quantities are used to make oil or animal feed.

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peanut

peanut (groundnut) Annual, leguminous plant Arachis hypogaea of the pea family. Native to South America, it is now grown in many temperate regions of the world. A versatile plant, in the 19th century, US scientist George Washington Carver researched more than 300 uses for it. The seeds (peanuts) are a valuable source of protein and yield an oil used both in food and in industry. The body of the plant can be used as animal feed. Family: Fabaceae/Leguminosae.

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Peanuts

Peanuts name of the comic strip (1950–99) by the American cartoonist Charles Schulz (1922–2000), featuring a range of characters including the likeable loser Charlie Brown, his dog Snoopy, bossy Lucy, and the philosophical Linus.

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peanut

peanut See ARACHIS.

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peanut

peanutabut, but, butt, cut, glut, gut, hut, intercut, jut, Mut, mutt, nut, phut, putt, rut, scut, shortcut, shut, slut, smut, strut, tut, undercut •sackbut • scuttlebutt • catgut •midgut • Vonnegut • rotgut • haircut •offcut • cross-cut • linocut • crew cut •woodcut • uppercut • chestnut •hazelnut • peanut • wing nut • cobnut •locknut • walnut • groundnut •doughnut (US donut) • coconut •butternut

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