sassafras

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English[edit]

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Alternative forms[edit]

The leaf of Sassafras albidum

Etymology[edit]

From Spanish sasafras, possibly from Latin saxifragus (stone-breaking) from the habit of certain plants growing in cracks in boulders.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

sassafras (countable and uncountable, plural sassafrases)

  1. (countable) A tree of species Sassafras albidum of the eastern United States and Asia having mitten-shaped leaves and red, aromatic heartwood.
  2. (countable) A tree of any species in the genus Sassafras.
  3. (uncountable) The bark of the root of this plant, used for medicinal and (mostly historically) culinary purposes and formerly a main ingredient in root beer.
    • 1624, John Smith, Generall Historie, in Kupperman 1988, p. 82:
      our allowance was somewhat bettered, by a daily proportion of Bisket, which the sailers would pilfer to sell, give, or exchange with us, for money, Saxefras, furres, or love.

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