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[sas-uh-fras] /ˈsæs əˌfræs/
an American tree, Sassafras albidum, of the laurel family, having egg-shaped leaves and long clusters of greenish-yellow flowers.
the aromatic bark of its root, used medicinally and especially for flavoring beverages, confectionery, etc.
Origin of sassafras
First recorded in 1570-80, sassafras is from the Spanish word sasafrás Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sassafras
Historical Examples
  • Now go and tell the rest of the boys, and get your sassafras to Preston's as soon as you can.

  • The boys found that even the sassafras could not have given her more pleasure.

    Some Three Hundred Years Ago Edith Gilman Brewster
  • All she wants is a bit o' boneset tea, or sage an' sassafras.

    Reels and Spindles Evelyn Raymond
  • Here they were engaged in loading their bark with sassafras, much to their satisfaction.

    The Settlers William H. G. Kingston
  • The Virginians dropped all thought of sassafras and clapboard.

  • There was often an odor of sassafras in the afternoon service.

    Being a Boy Charles Dudley Warner
  • Celia, the next time I go on our hill I'll get you lots of sassafras.

    That Fortune Charles Dudley Warner
  • They saw her digging with her trowel round a sassafras bush.

    The Peterkin Papers Lucretia P Hale
  • sassafras is often cited as an example of a tree with leaves of different forms.

    American Forest Trees

    Henry H. Gibson
  • It is closely related to sassafras, and the bark has an aromatic odor.

    American Forest Trees

    Henry H. Gibson
British Dictionary definitions for sassafras


an aromatic deciduous lauraceous tree, Sassafras albidum, of North America, having three-lobed leaves and dark blue fruits
the aromatic dried root bark of this tree, used as a flavouring, and yielding sassafras oil
(Austral) any of several unrelated trees having a similar fragrant bark
Word Origin
C16: from Spanish sasafrás, of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sassafras

small flowering tree of North America, 1570s, from Spanish sasafras, perhaps an adaptation of saxifraga "saxifrage," from Late Latin saxifragia, variant of saxifraga (see saxifrage). But the connection of the plants is difficult to explain, and the word perhaps represents a lost Native American name that sounded like Spanish saxifraga and was altered to conform to it. The tree supposedly was discovered by the Spanish in 1528.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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