[ sap ]
/ sæp /
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verb (used with object), sapped, sap·ping.
to drain the sap from.
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Origin of sap

First recorded before 900; Middle English; Old English sæp; cognate with Dutch sap; akin to German Saft juice, Old Norse safi; in def. 5 a shortening of saphead

Other definitions for sap (2 of 4)

[ sap ]
/ sæp /

Fortification. a deep, narrow trench constructed so as to form an approach to a besieged place or an enemy's position.
verb (used with object), sapped, sap·ping.
to undermine; gradually or insidiously weaken or destroy.
  1. to approach (a besieged place or an enemy position) by means of deep, narrow trenches protected by gabions or parapets.
  2. to dig such trenches in (ground).
verb (used without object), sapped, sap·ping.
Fortification. to dig a sap.

Origin of sap

First recorded in 1585–95; from French noun sape “spade, spadework,” derivative of saper “to dig a trench,” from Italian zappare “to undermine,” a military term, based on zappa “hoe”

Other definitions for sap (3 of 4)

[ sap ]
/ sæp /

a short club with a heavy tip that is used as a weapon; blackjack; bludgeon: The burglar carried a set of lockpicks and a sap.
verb (used with object)
to hit (someone) with a club: If he tries to sneak out, I'll sap him over the head.

Origin of sap

First recorded in 1895–1900 as a verb; of uncertain origin; perhaps shortening of sapling (used as a tool or weapon)

Other definitions for sap (4 of 4)

s. ap.

apothecaries' scruple; apothecaries' scruples.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sap in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sap (1 of 4)

/ (sæp) /

a solution of mineral salts, sugars, etc, that circulates in a plant
any vital body fluid
energy; vigour
slang a gullible or foolish person
another name for sapwood
verb saps, sapping or sapped (tr)
to drain of sap

Derived forms of sap

sapless, adjective

Word Origin for sap

Old English sæp; related to Old High German sapf, German Saft juice, Middle Low German sapp, Sanskrit sabar milk juice

British Dictionary definitions for sap (2 of 4)

/ (sæp) /

a deep and narrow trench used to approach or undermine an enemy position, esp in siege warfare
verb saps, sapping or sapped
to undermine (a fortification, etc) by digging saps
(tr) to weaken

Word Origin for sap

C16 zappe, from Italian zappa spade, of uncertain origin; perhaps from Old Italian (dialect) zappo a goat

British Dictionary definitions for sap (3 of 4)


abbreviation for
South African Police

British Dictionary definitions for sap (4 of 4)

/ (sæp) /

n acronym for (in Britain)
Standard Assessment Procedure, the recognized performance indicator for measuring energy efficiency in buildings
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

Scientific definitions for sap

[ săp ]

The watery fluid that circulates through a plant that has vascular tissues. Sap moving up the xylem carries water and minerals, while sap moving down the phloem carries water and food.
See cell sap.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.