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Etymology 1[edit]



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.
  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 expecl,
      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;

Etymology 2[edit]

Compare Latin sapere to taste.

Alternative forms[edit]


sappy (comparative more sappy, superlative most sappy)

  1. (obsolete) Musty; tainted. (Can we verify(+) this sense?)

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for sappy in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)