a plant, Medicago sativa, of the legume family, usually having bluish-purple flowers, originating in the Near East and widely cultivated as a forage crop.

Origin of alfalfa

1835–45; < Spanish, variant of alfalfez < Spanish Arabic al the + faṣfaṣah < Persian ispist lucerne
Also called lucerne, purple medic. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for alfalfa

Contemporary Examples of alfalfa

Historical Examples of alfalfa

  • And near them long trains of burros laden with grain, alfalfa, straw, or wood.

    Aztec Land

    Maturin M. Ballou

  • Bob Johnson was stripping a stalk of alfalfa in his fingers.

    Whispering Smith

    Frank H. Spearman

  • The Dean could have been enticed away to examine the alfalfa and the pumping system.

    The Forbidden Trail

    Honor Willsie

  • Capital yields are produced after alfalfa or after root crops.

    Agriculture for Beginners

    Charles William Burkett

  • Alfalfa, however, unlike the cowpea, does not take to poor land.

    Agriculture for Beginners

    Charles William Burkett

British Dictionary definitions for alfalfa



a leguminous plant, Medicago sativa, of Europe and Asia, having compound leaves with three leaflets and clusters of small purplish flowers. It is widely cultivated for forage and as a nitrogen fixer and used as a commercial source of chlorophyllAlso called: lucerne

Word Origin for alfalfa

C19: from Spanish, from Arabic al-fasfasah, from al the + fasfasah the best sort of fodder
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

Word Origin and History for alfalfa

1845, from Spanish alfalfa, earlier alfalfez, from Arabic al-fisfisa "fresh fodder."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper