as·par·a·gus (ə-spăr’ə-gəs)
n. 1) The tender young shoots of the plant Asparagus officinalis, eaten as a vegetable. 2) Any of various perennial plants of the genus Asparagus of Eurasia and Africa, having leaflike stems, scalelike leaves, and small flowers.
[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 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.
Asparagus officinalis

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Asparagus — Asparagus …   Wikipédia en Français

  • asparagus — [ asparagys ] n. m. • 1797; mot lat. « asperge » ♦ Plante ornementale (liliacées) voisine de l asperge, au feuillage très fin et décoratif. Bouquet d œillets et d asparagus. ● asparagus nom masculin (motlatin) Nom générique de l asperge.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • asparagus — ASPARÁGUS, asparaguşi, s.m. Plantă ornamentală din familia liliaceelor, cultivată pentru frunzuliţele ei foarte fine şi decorative (Asparagus silvestris). – Din fr. asparagus. Trimis de cata, 11.02.2004. Sursa: DEX 98  asparágus s. m., pl.… …   Dicționar Român

  • Asparagus — As*par a*gus ([a^]s*p[a^]r [.a]*g[u^]s), n. [L., fr. Gr. aspa ragos, asfa ragos; cf. sparga^n to swell with sap or juice, and Zend [,c]paregha prong, sprout, Pers. asparag, Lith. spurgas sprout, Skr. sphurj to swell. Perh. the Greek borrowed from …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • asparagus — late O.E. sparage, from L. asparagus (in M.L. often sparagus), from Gk. asparagos, of uncertain origin; probably from PIE root *sp(h)er(e)g to spring up (though perhaps from a non Greek source). In Middle English, asperages sometimes was regarded …   Etymology dictionary

  • asparagus — [ə spar′ə gəs, əsper′əgəs] n. [ModL < L < Gr asparagos < IE base * sp(h)er(e)g , to spring up, sprout > SPRING, SPARK1] 1. any of a genus (Asparagus) of plants of the lily family, with small, scalelike leaves, many flat or needlelike… …   English World dictionary

  • asparagus — asparágus (asparȃgus) m DEFINICIJA bot., v. šparoga ETIMOLOGIJA grč. aspáragos …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Asparăgus — (A. L.), Pflanzengattung aus der Familie der Liliaceen (Liliaceae Asphodeleae Asparageae), 6. Klasse 1. Ordnung L. mit einfacher, sechsblätteriger, unterständiger, einfacher Blüthenhülle, die an der Basis in ein mit dem Blüthenstiele gegliedertes …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Asparăgus — L. (Spargel), Gattung der Liliazeen, Kräuter oder Halbsträucher mit unterirdischer Grundachse, von der die oberirdischen, mehr oder weniger verzweigten, bisweilen kletternden Stämmchen ausgehen, kleinen, schuppigen oder dornigen Blättern, in… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Asparagus — Asparăgus, s. Spargel …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Asparagus — Asparagus, s. Spargel …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

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