asafoetida

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English[edit]

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asafoetida

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Medieval Latin asafoetida, from Persian ازا / آزا (azā, āzā, mastic) + Latin foetida, feminine of foetidus (bad-smelling).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

asafoetida (uncountable)

  1. A resinous gum from the stem and roots of a wild fennel (Ferula asafoetida), having a strong, unpleasant smell, with culinary and medical uses. [from 14th c.]
    • 1638, Thomas Herbert, Some Yeares Travels, II:
      Nigh Whormoot are Duzgun, Laztan-De, and other Townes, where is got the best Assa-Fætida through all the Orient: the tree is like our brier in height, the leaves resemble Fig leaves, the root the Radish: the vertue had need be much, it stincks so odiously.
    • 1855, Sir Richard Burton, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah, Dover 1964, p. 54:
      half-a-dozen huge bread pills, dipped in a solution of aloes or cinnamon water, flavoured with assafœtida, which in the case of the dyspeptic rich often suffice [...].
    • 1993, Anthony Burgess, A Dead Man In Deptford:
      The letter she sent me stank of assafoetida or devil’s dung. I was charmed.