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Borrowing from Turkish salep, from Arabic سَحْلَب (saḥlab).[1] According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Arabic word is said to be a contraction of الثَعْلَب (aṯ-ṯaʿlab, fox) خُصًى (ḵuṣan, testicles), referring to the testicle-like root tubers. Chuck Entz (talk) 18:41, 7 October 2017 (UTC)


salep (countable and uncountable, plural saleps)

  1. A starch or jelly made out of orchid-like plants.
    • 2014 April 5, “Quite interesting: A quietly intriguing column from the brains behind QI, the BBC quiz show. This week; QI orchids you not”, in The Daily Telegraph (Weekend), page W22:
      The tubers of one [orchid] species, Orchis mascula, produce a flour called salep, which was made into a drink known as "saloop" in 18th-century London, as an alternative to coffee (Charles Lamb thought it the ideal breakfast for chimney sweeps). Salep is a Turkish word with an even more precise derivation (it's from the Arabic for "fox's testicles"). Despite this, the Turks still use it to make a strange elastic ice cream, eaten with a knife and fork, which carries a pungent aftertaste compared by one commentator to the scent of "goats on a rainy day". Salep ice cream is so popular that O. mascula is now a protected species in Turkey.

Related terms[edit]


  1. ^ "salep." Online Etymology Dictionary. 2008.