- 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 asparagus
Late 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
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)
- Any of various perennial plants of the genus Asparagus having leaflike stems, scalelike leaves, and small flowers.
- The young shoots of Asparagus officinalis eaten as a vegetable.
From Medieval Latin asparagus, sparagus, from Ancient Greek ἀσπάραγος (asparagos). Replaced earlier Old English sparagi, from Medieval Latin, later sperage, sparrowgrass.
- A taxonomic genus within the family Asparagaceae — asparaguses.
Medieval Latin sparagus, from Ancient Greek ἀσπάραγος (asparagos).