noun, plural sal·si·fies.
  1. a purple-flowered, composite plant, Tragopogon porrifolius, whose root has an oyster-like flavor and is used as a culinary vegetable.

Origin of salsify

1690–1700; < French salsifis, variant of sassefy, sassef(r)ique < Italian sassef(r)ica) < ? Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for salsify

Historical Examples of salsify

  • Salsify must not be left exposed to the air, or it will turn blackish.

  • "Thank you," said Amy taking the bunch of keys from Mrs. Salsify's hand.


    Effie Afton

  • "Well, the girl ought to pay for the waste she has occasioned," said Mr. Salsify, gruffly.


    Effie Afton

  • Thus it appears Mr. Salsify's high hopes are at length realized.


    Effie Afton

  • Drain off the water and cut the salsify in pieces half an inch long.

    Housekeeping in Old Virginia

    Marion Cabell Tyree

British Dictionary definitions for salsify


noun plural -fies
  1. Also called: oyster plant, vegetable oyster a Mediterranean plant, Tragopogon porrifolius, having grasslike leaves, purple flower heads, and a long white edible taproot: family Asteraceae (composites)
  2. the root of this plant, which tastes of oysters and is eaten as a vegetable

Word Origin for salsify

C17: from French salsifis, from Italian sassefrica, from Late Latin saxifrica, from Latin saxum rock + fricāre to rub
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 salsify

biennial plant, 1710, from French salsifis, earlier sercifi, sassify (16c.), probably from Italian erba salsifica, from Old Italian salsifica, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Latin sal "salt" + fricare "to rub."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper