- a soft, brown, lumpy gum resin having a bitter, acrid taste and an obnoxious odor, obtained from the roots of several Near Eastern plants belonging to the genus Ferula, of the parsley family: formerly used in medicine as a carminative and antispasmodic.
Also a·sa·foet·i·da, asfetida.
Origin of asafetida
1350–1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin asafoetida, equivalent to asa (< Persian āzā mastic, gum) + Latin foetida, feminine of foetidus fetid
Also called devil's dung, food of the gods.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for asafetida
All we ever wore to keep off diseases was asafetida, nothing else.Slave Narratives, Oklahoma
This has been found to be the case with asafetida, valerian, ichthyol, etc.Dietetics for Nurses
Fairfax T. Proudfit
However, I do know that we wore little sacks of asafetida around our necks to keep off diseases, and the white folks wore it too.
I does 'member dat chillun had to live wid bags of assfiddy (asafetida) 'round deir necks to keep off ailments.
Mighty nigh all de chillun had a little teency bag of asafetida, on a string 'round they necks, to keep off diseases.Slave Narratives Vol. XIV. South Carolina, Part 2
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Word Origin and History for asafetida
late 14c., from Medieval Latin asa (Latinized from Persian aza "mastic") + foetida, fem. of foetidus "stinking" (see fetid).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper