- any of a number of tropical plants of various families with clumplike roots; esp., a West Indian plant (Maranta arundinacea) of the arrowroot family with large leaves, white flowers, and starchy roots
- an easily digestible starch derived from an arrowroot (esp. M. arundinacea)
Origin of arrowrootaltered, from use as antidote for poisoned arrows ; from Arawakan aru-aru, literally , meal of meals
designating a family (Marantaceae, order Zingiberales) of monocotyledonous, tropical American plants
- a. A starch obtained from the rhizomes of a tropical American perennial herb (Maranta arundinacea). It is used especially in cooking as a thickener.b. The rhizome of this plant, cooked and eaten as a vegetable or used for starch extraction.c. The plant itself.
- a. The edible starch obtained from the rhizomes or tubers of various other plants, including coontie.b. Any of these plants.
Origin of arrowrootBy folk etymology from Arawak aru-aru, meal of meals (from its being used to draw poison from arrow wounds). Word History: The arrowroot is just one of many plants that the European settlers and explorers discovered in the New World. The Arawak, a people who formerly lived on the Caribbean islands and continue to inhabit certain regions of Guiana, named this plant aru-aru, meaning “meal of meals,” so called because they thought very highly of the starchy, nutritious meal made from the arrowroot. The plant also had medicinal value because its tubers could be used to draw poison from wounds inflicted by poison arrows. The medicinal application of the roots provided the impetus for English speakers to remake aru-aru into arrowroot, first recorded in English in 1696. Folk etymology—the process by which an unfamiliar element in a word is changed to resemble a more familiar word, often one that is semantically associated with the word being refashioned—has triumphed once again, giving us arrowroot instead of the direct borrowing of aru-aru.
(countable and uncountable, plural arrowroots)
- A large perennial herb (Maranta arundinacea - family Marantaceae) native to the Caribbean area. It has large green leaves about 15 centimeters long with white stripes.
- (uncountable) A starchy substance obtained from the roots of the arrowroot plant used as a thickener.