AskDefine | Define loam

Dictionary Definition

loam n : a rich soil consisting of a mixture of sand and clay and decaying organic materials

User Contributed Dictionary




Old English lām


  1. A kind of soil; an earthy mixture of clay and sand, with organic matter to which its fertility is chiefly due.


  • 1602 : William Shakespeare, Hamlet , act V scene 1
    Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander
    returneth to dust, the dust is earth, of earth we make
    loam, and of why that loam whereto he was converted
    might they not stop a beer-barrel?


an earthy mixture of clay and sand
  • Dutch: leem
  • Finnish: savimaa, hiue

Extensive Definition

Loam is soil composed of sand, silt, and clay in relatively even concentration (about 40-40-20% concentration respectively), considered ideal for gardening and agricultural uses. Loam soils generally contain more nutrients and humus than sandy soils, have better infiltration and drainage than silty soils, and are easier to till than clayey soils.
Loams are gritty, plastic when moist, and retain water easily. In addition to the term loam, different names are given to soils with slightly different proportions of sand, silt, and clay: sandy loam, silty loam, clay loam, sandy clay loam, silty clay loam, and loam.
A "loamy" soil feels mellow and is easy to work over a wide range of moisture conditions. A soil dominated by one or two of the three particle size groups can behave like loam if it has a strong granular structure (promoted by a high content of organic matter). However, a soil that meets the textural definition of loam can lose its characteristic desirable qualities when compacted, depleted of organic matter, or has dispersive clay in its fine-earth fraction.
Loam soil is ideal for growing crops because it retains nutrients well and retains water while still allowing the water to flow freely. This soil is found in a majority of successful farms in regions around the world known for their fertile land.

In house construction

Loam is also used for the construction of houses. Walls covered inside with a layer of loam work well to control air humidity. Loam, combined with straw, is also a widely-used construction material in poorer countries.
loam in Catalan: Llim
loam in German: Lehm
loam in Spanish: Limo
loam in Persian: ابلیز
loam in French: Loam
loam in Italian: Limo
loam in Dutch: Leem
loam in Japanese: ローム (土壌)
loam in Polish: Ił (skała)
loam in Russian: Суглинок
loam in Sicilian: Fangu (melma)
loam in Ukrainian: Глинисті породи
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