• synonyms


  1. any of several plants of the genus Panax, especially P. pseudoginseng, of eastern Asia, or P. qinquefolius, of North America, having an aromatic root used medicinally.
  2. the root itself.
  3. a preparation made from it.
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Also genseng.

Origin of ginseng

1645–55; < Chinese (Wade-Giles) jên2 shên1, (Pinyin) rén-shēn, equivalent to rén man + shēn name for a kind of herb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ginseng


  1. either of two araliaceous plants, Panax schinseng of China or P. quinquefolius of North America, whose forked aromatic roots are used medicinally
  2. the root of either of these plants or a substance obtained from the roots, believed to possess stimulant, tonic, and energy-giving properties
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Word Origin

C17: from Mandarin Chinese jen shen, from jen man (from a resemblance of the roots to human legs) + shen ginseng
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 ginseng


1690s, from Chinese jen-shen. First element means "man," but the meaning of the second is obscure.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper