Turnip (terminology)

Turnip can refer to three vegetables, which are described under the articles Turnip, Rutabaga, and Jicama. The confusion results from the following regional differences of usage.

Scientific term Brassica rapa rapa Brassica napus or B. napobrassica Pachyrhizus
Southern England, most Commonwealth countries turnip swede (from "swedish turnip") yam
Scotland, North East England, Ireland, the Isle of Man, swede or white turnip turnip, yellow turnip or "neep" yam
Cornwall swede or white turnip turnip  
United States, South Yorkshire turnip rutabaga or yellow turnip jicama
Malaysia, Singapore, and Philippines     turnip
also called white turnip or summer turnip yellow turnip or winter turnip sweet turnip

Brassica napus and B. napobrassica are called swedes (a shortening of Swedish turnip) in England, especially in the South, and in most dialects of the Commonwealth. Rutabaga, from the Swedish rotabagga, for "root bag" is mostly used in North America, in the United States and some parts of Canada. The rutabaga or swede differs from the turnip (Brassica rapa) in that it is typically larger and yellow-orange rather than white. In the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador and Atlantic Canada, the yellow-fleshed variety are referred to as "Turnips" (Since the majority of early settlers came from England, Ireland and Scotland and brought the name turnip with them.) whilst the white-fleshed variety are called "White Turnips" to differentiate the two.

However, in some dialects of British English the two vegetables have overlapping or reversed names. In the north of England and Scotland, the larger, yellow rutabagas are called neeps or swede from folk etymology, while the smaller white turnips are called turnips. In the North East of England where Geordies & Mackem's quite correctly refer to the larger purple vegetable with the yellow flesh as a turnip, and the small white root as a swede. The yellow-fleshed swedes are known as "narkies" in Sunderland, and in past years used to be hollowed out and used as lanterns at Halloween.[1]

Other vegetables

Kohlrabi is also called German turnip, turnip cabbage or cabbage turnip,[2] although there the stem, not the root, is the enlarged part.


  1. Smillie, Susan (25 January 2010). "Are 'neeps' swedes or turnips?". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  2. dict.leo.org accessed 24-May-2009 12:40 PM CEST
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