[ al-fal-fuh ]
/ ælˈfæl fə /


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.

Nearby words

  1. alexius i,
  2. alexius i comnenus,
  3. aleyard,
  4. alf,
  5. alfa,
  6. alfalfa butterfly,
  7. alfalfa weevil,
  8. alfarabius,
  9. alfaro,
  10. alfaro, flavio eloy

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

British Dictionary definitions for purple medic

purple medic


another name for alfalfa


/ (ælˈfælfə) /


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 purple medic



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper