I have a mild allergy to Onions, Garlic, Shallots, etc. - all members of the genus Allium. Is there a noun I can use to readily describe all these? Eg: "I have a(n) _____ allergy."

Been thinking about it for a while, and it seems kind of tricky. I can't say "I have an Allium allergy" because that implies Allium is an entity, a thing to be allergic to. Onions don't contain Allium any more than John contains Smiths.

Based on a related question, I could say "I have an allergy to Alliaceous plants", but that seems like a bit of a mouthful. I'd love to find something a little more elegant/fluid if possible!

  • 2
    Allium is what I would use. We grow all of those and that's what they're called, literally generically. Feb 18, 2014 at 16:02
  • 1
    'An Allium allergy' can also mean an allergy to members of the Allium category. English (and other languages) is nice like that. But more likely, people won't know what you're talking about, given that they are usually not botanists or Latin scholars. Stick with 'I have an allergy to onions and related plants'.
    – Mitch
    Feb 18, 2014 at 16:10
  • Concentrically growing root vegetables won't win you any friends either. I would go with a revision of Mitch's suggestion. Onions, garlic and all related vegetables. Many people will fail to know that onions and garlic are as related as say onions and scallions or shallots.
    – David M
    Feb 18, 2014 at 16:14
  • The Big W says: Allium is a monocot genus of flowering plants, informally referred to as the onion genus. The generic name Allium is the Latin word for garlic.
    – bib
    Feb 18, 2014 at 16:44
  • So you could easily say "I am allergic to the onion genus" or "I am allergic to the onion family (of plants)".
    – nxx
    Feb 18, 2014 at 16:57

1 Answer 1


Grammatically, you can truthfully say, "I have an allergy to Alliums."

It's no different than saying, "I have an allergy to shellfish", or "I have an allergy to cats."

In neither of the above example are you naming the precise compound in crustaceans or cat dander which is allergenic for you. (You do not need to say, "I have an allergy to the muscle protein tropomyosin." or "I have an allergy to a protein that binds to a molecule called LPS, which is, in turn, recognized by a receptor called TLR4, which then reacts with my IgEs.") It is no less the truth for lack of the specific naming.

  • +1, I think this is the most satisfied I'm going to be with a response. The "Alliums" vs "Allium" distinction makes all the difference - why didn't I think of that? Thanks!
    – CodeMoose
    Feb 18, 2014 at 18:31
  • 1
    – Oldcat
    Feb 19, 2014 at 2:18
  • You could say that, but would anyone understand what it meant? That seems kinda important for the goal of communicating allergies. ;) Feb 20, 2014 at 0:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.