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Etymology 1[edit]

sap +‎ -y


  • IPA(key): /ˈsæpi/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æpi


sappy (comparative sappier, superlative sappiest)

  1. (US) Excessively sweet, emotional, nostalgic; cheesy; mushy. (British equivalent: soppy)
    • 1883, Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, Part 5, Chapter 23,[1]
      He was a good deal of a character, and much better company than the sappy literature he was selling.
    • 1943, Sinclair Lewis, Gideon Planish, Chapter 23,[2]
      To himself, already beginning to resent the new employer as all that morning he had been resenting the old one, Dr. Planish groaned, “He’s getting saintly on me! A careerist in holiness! I'll never be happy till I've got an organization where I’m sole boss—unless it’s one run by a fellow like Colonel Marduc, who has real brains and power—and cash!—and not a lot of sappy sentimentality like Vesper or psychopathic malice like Sneaky Sandy—Oh dear!”
    It was a sappy love song, but it reminded them of their first dance.
  2. Having (a particularly large amount of) sap.
    • 1593, William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis,[3]
      ‘Torches are made to light, jewels to wear,
      Dainties to taste, fresh beauty for the use,
      Herbs for their smell, and sappy plants to bear:
      Things growing to themselves are growth’s abuse:
      Seeds spring from seeds and beauty breedeth beauty;
      Thou wast begot; to get it is thy duty.
    • 1842, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Amphion,”[4]
      But these, tho’ fed with careful dirt,
      Are neither green nor sappy;
      Half-conscious of the garden-squirt,
      The spindlings look unhappy,
    • 1887, Thomas Hardy, The Woodlanders, Chapter 24,[5]
      The sappy green twig-tips of the season’s growth would not, she thought, be appreciably woodier on the day she became a wife, so near was the time; the tints of the foliage would hardly have changed.
    • 1976, Kurt Vonnegut, Slapstick, Delacorte Press, Chapter 8, p. 61,
      As always, there was a fizzing, popping blaze of pine and sappy apple logs in the fireplace.
    • 2013, Margaret Leroy, The English Girl, →ISBN:
      The corridor stinks of sweat and cigarette smoke, and I daringly open the window a little. The freshest air floats in, smelling of sappy grasses, the delicate pollens of wild flowers, the resins of the pine forests; hinting atthe chill blue scent of distant snows.
  3. (obsolete) Juicy.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book Two, Canto XII, Stanza 56, edited by Erik Gray, Hackett, 2006, p. 214,
      In her left hand a Cup of gold she held,
      And with her right the riper fruit did reach,
      Whose sappy liquor, that with fulnesse sweld,
      Into her cup she scruzd, with daintie breach
      Of her fine fingers, without fowle empeach,
      That so faire winepresse made the wine more sweet:
    • 1693, François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel, Book III, (1546), translated by Thomas Urquhart, Chapter 18,[6]
      The words of the third article are: She will suck me at my best end. Why not? That pleaseth me right well. You know the thing; I need not tell you that it is my intercrural pudding with one end. I swear and promise that, in what I can, I will preserve it sappy, full of juice, and as well victualled for her use as may be.
    • 1717, Ovid, Metamorphoses, translated by John Dryden, London: J. and R. Tonson, 4th edition, 1736, Book I, pp. 21-22,[7]
      The Stones (a Miracle to Mortal View,
      But long Tradition makes it pass for true)
      Did first the Rigour of their Kind expell,
      And suppled into softness as they fell;
      Then swell’d, and swelling, by degrees grew warm;
      And took the Rudiments of human Form.
      Imperfect Shapes: in Marble such are seen,
      When the rude Chizzel does the Man begin;
      While yet the roughness of the Stone remains,
      Without the rising Muscles, and the Veins.
      The sappy parts, and next resembling juice,
      Were turn’d to moisture, for the Body’s use:
      Supplying humours, blood and nourishment;
  4. (obsolete, of wood) Spongy; Having spaces in which large quantities of sap can flow.
    • 1816, George Gregory, A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences - Volume 3, page 5:
      In flush-framing if is observable, that the failure of all timber in old buildings has commenced much sooner than they otherwise would have done, owing to the sappy wood being at the corners of the principal beams, which soon decays, as its spongy quality attracts the moisture; whereas the heart, espescially of oak, will be as sound as the first day it was used.
    • 1834, William Gilpin ‎& Thomas Dick Lauder, Remarks on Forest Scenery and Other Woodland Views, page 98:
      ...wood is of a soft spungy nature ; sappy, and alluring to the worm.
    • 1876, Documents of the Senate of the State of New York:
      I can state some of them here on a. book ; I have the particulars at home, but I can give you some of them here ; this is the Twelfth street pier, number fifty-four [reading from memorandum], 12x12 pine sticks, wormy and sappy ; one sappy ; one piece 12x12 completely rotten
    • 2007, Robert Hooke -, Micrographia Or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies, →ISBN, page 107:
      The reason of which difference may probably be, that the charring of Vegetables, being an operation quickly perform'd, and whilest the Wood is sappy, the more solid parts may more easily shrink together, and contract the pores or interstitia between them, then in the rotten Wood, where that natural juice seems onely to be wash'd away by adventitious or unnatural moisturel and so though the natural juice be wasted from between the firm parts, yet those parts are kept asunder by the adventitious moystures, and so by degrees settled in those postures.

Derived terms


Etymology 2[edit]

Compare Latin sapere (to taste).

Alternative forms[edit]


sappy (comparative more sappy, superlative most sappy)

  1. (obsolete) Musty; tainted; rancid.
    • 1580, Barret in V. Restie, Alv. 1580
      sappie or unsavourie flesh
    • 1783, Lemon's Etymological Dictionary
      Sapy [denotes] a moisture contracted on the outward surface of meats, which is the first stage of dissolution.
    • 1804, John Farley, The London Art of Cookery, and Housekeeper's Complete Assistant:
      Some housekeepers prepare their hung beef in this manner: Take the navel piece, and hang it up in your cellar as long as it will keep good, and til it begins to be a little sappy.
    • 1875, English mechanic and world of science:
      Sappy meat was explained to consist of a number of little vesicles filled with very minute particles, which presented the Brownian motion, and which Mr. Berkeley suggested, from their known effects on meat, might possibly be the cause of cholera, hospital gangrene, or other diseases.
    • 1921, National Wool Grower - Volumes 11-12, page 17:
      In this respect lamb is peculiarly suspectible to deterioration on passing the “sappy” stage.