• synonyms


  1. cause, account, interest, or benefit: for the sake of all students.
  2. purpose or end: for the sake of appearances.
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Origin of sake1

before 900; Middle English; Old English sacu lawsuit, cause; cognate with German Sache thing, Old Norse sǫk lawsuit; akin to seek



or sa·ké, sa·ki

  1. a Japanese fermented, mildly alcoholic beverage made from rice.
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Origin of sake2

1680–90; < Japanese sake(y), earlier *sakai
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for sakes

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • And I wish, for all our sakes, that we had the pitcher here now!

    The Miraculous Pitcher

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • We could not, for their own sakes, have risked bringing them.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • Gustave had to kiss them, and to promise them that he would live for their sakes.

  • How little labour, how little watching, how little pain has he endured for their sakes!

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • Do not delay an instant, but come with me—for both our sakes—for mine—my dear good sir!'

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for sakes


  1. benefit or interest (esp in the phrase for (someone's or one's own) sake)
  2. the purpose of obtaining or achieving (esp in the phrase for the sake of (something))
  3. used in various exclamations of impatience, urgency, etcfor heaven's sake; for pete's sake
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Word Origin

C13 (in the phrase for the sake of, probably from legal usage): from Old English sacu lawsuit (hence, a cause); related to Old Norse sok, German Sache matter


sak or saki

  1. a Japanese alcoholic drink made from fermented rice
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Word Origin

C17: from Japanese
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 sakes



"purpose," Old English sacu "a cause at law, crime, dispute, guilt," from Proto-Germanic *sako "affair, thing, charge, accusation" (cf. Old Norse sök "charge, lawsuit, effect, cause," Old Frisian seke "strife, dispute, matter, thing," Dutch zaak "lawsuit, cause, sake, thing," German sache "thing, matter, affair, cause"), from PIE root *sag- "to investigate, seek out" (cf. Old English secan, Gothic sokjan "to seek;" see seek).

Much of the word's original meaning has been taken over by case (n.1), cause (n.), and it survives largely in phrases for the sake of (early 13c.) and for _______'s sake (c.1300, originally for God's sake), both probably are from Norse, as these forms have not been found in Old English.

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"Japanese rice liquor," 1680s, from Japanese sake, literally "alcohol."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with sakes


see for the sake of.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.