- any of a genus (Asparagus) of plants of the lily family, with small, scalelike leaves, many flat or needlelike branches, and whitish flowers, including several plants (asparagus ferns) having fleshy roots and fine fernlike leaves
- the tender shoots of one of these plants (A. officinalis), used as a vegetable
Origin of asparagusModern Latin ; from Classical Latin ; from Classical Greek asparagos ; from Indo-European base an unverified form sp(h)er(e)g-, to spring up, sprout from source spring, spark
- The tender young shoots of the plant Asparagus officinalis, eaten as a vegetable.
- Any of various perennial plants of the genus Asparagus of Eurasia and Africa, having leaflike stems, scalelike leaves, and small flowers.
Origin of asparagusLate Middle English sperage, sparage, from Medieval Latin sparagus, from Latin asparagus, from Greek aspharagos, asparagos. Word History: After the rebirth of classical learning during the Renaissance, Greek and Latin achieved a lofty status among the educated. As a result, etymologists and spelling reformers of the 16th and 17th centuries tried to give English a classical look by Latinizing or Hellenizing the spelling of words that had Latin or Greek ancestry (and even some that didn't). For example, Medieval Latin had a word sparagus, from Classical Latin asparagus, that was borrowed into Middle English and rendered as sparage or, more commonly, sperage. Botanists were familiar with the proper Latin version asparagus, and their use of that term together with the efforts of the etymologists caused the Latin form to become more widespread, eventually supplanting sperage. In the 1600s, however, asparagus was shortened in popular speech to ’sparagus, and reanalyzed—this time by amateur etymologists—as sparagrass or sparrowgrass. These variants gained wide acceptance during the 18th century, largely relegating asparagus to the field of botany. Asparagus eventually found its way back into common use during the 19th century. Thus, it is difficult to say whether the Modern English word asparagus is a direct descendant of Middle English sperage or a borrowing directly from Latin—a difficulty one encounters with hundreds of other words whose spellings and even pronunciations were Latinized during this time.
(plural asparagus or asparaguses)
Medieval Latin sparagus, from Ancient Greek ἀσπάραγος (asparagos).