arrowroot

ar·row·root (ăr’ō-ro͞ot′, -ro͝ot′)
n. 1) 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. 2) a) The edible starch obtained from the rhizomes or tubers of various other plants, including coontie. b) Any of these plants.
[By 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.

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Arrowroot — Ar row*root , n. 1. (Bot.) A white flowered west Indian plant of the genus {Maranta}, esp. {Maranta arundinacea}, now cultivated in many hot countries. Its root yields {arrowroot starch}. It said that the Indians used the roots to neutralize the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • arrowroot — [ar′ōro͞ot΄, ar′ōroot΄, er′ōro͞ot΄, er′ōroot΄] n. [altered, from use as antidote for poisoned arrows < Arawakan aru aru, lit., meal of meals] 1. any of a number of tropical plants of various families with clumplike roots; esp., a West Indian… …   English World dictionary

  • Arrowroot — (engl., spr. arro rūt, »Pfeilwurz«), meist aus knolligen Wurzelstöcken tropischer und subtropischer Pflanzen hergestellte reine Stärkesorten, hauptsächlich das Stärkemehl mehrerer Maranta Arten, besonders M. arundinacea, das als westindisches… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Arrowroot — (engl., spr. ärroruht), Pfeilwurzelmehl, Stärkemehl aus den Wurzelknollen mehrerer trop. Pflanzen, so der westind. Pfeilwurzel, Maranta arundinacea L. (westind. A. oder Marantastärke), von Curcuma angustifolia und leucorrhiza Roxb. (ostind. A.… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Arrowroot — Arrowroot, Pfeilwurzmehl, ist ein aus den Wurzelknollen der Maranta arundinacea bereitetes Stärkmehl, welches aus Westindien bei uns eingeführt wird, und für Kinder zur Bereitung des Kinderbreies besonders empfohlen werden kann, wohl noch mehr… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • arrowroot — (n.) 1690s, from ARROW (Cf. arrow) + ROOT (Cf. root) (n.). So called because it was used to absorb toxins from poison dart wounds …   Etymology dictionary

  • arrowroot — ► NOUN ▪ a plant that yields a fine grained starch used in cookery and medicine. ORIGIN from an Arawak word meaning meal of meals , by association with ARROW(Cf. ↑arrowed) and ROOT(Cf. ↑rootless), the plant s tubers being used to absorb poison… …   English terms dictionary

  • Arrowroot — This article is about the herb. For the cycad, see Florida arrowroot. Arrowroot Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae …   Wikipedia

  • arrowroot — /ar oh rooht , root /, n. 1. a tropical American plant, Maranta arundinacea, the rhizomes of which yield a nutritious starch. 2. the starch itself. 3. any of several other plants yielding a similar starch. 4. the starch of these plants, used in… …   Universalium

  • arrowroot —   Pia.    ♦ Arrowroot starch, pia.    ♦ Process of sweetening arrowroot starch, kūlō pia.    ♦ To place arrowroot in packages, a aho.    ♦ Small arrowroot tubers, mā ili.    ♦ Arrowroot balls, omo omo, pia …   English-Hawaiian dictionary

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