[sahy-suh l, sis-uh l]
  1. Also called sisal hemp. a fiber yielded by an agave, Agave sisalana, of Yucatán, used for making rope, rugs, etc.
  2. the plant itself.

Origin of sisal

1835–45; short for Sisal grass or hemp, named after Sisal, port in Yucatán Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sisal

Historical Examples of sisal

  • The fiber is larger, not so stiff, but stronger than Sisal hemp.


    William H. Dooley

  • It is rumored that from the state of sisal and henequen he will pick his running-mate.

    Diplomatic Days

    Edith O'Shaughnessy

  • The exportation of sisal plants was prohibited by the German Government.

  • The principal port, Progreso, is an open roadstead where no shelter is obtained, the old abandoned port of Sisal being superior.


    Charles Reginald Enock

  • Sisal is a sort of small oxen striped like a zebra and spotted like a leopard.'

British Dictionary definitions for sisal


  1. a Mexican agave plant, Agave sisalana, cultivated for its large fleshy leaves, which yield a stiff fibre used for making rope
  2. the fibre of this plant
  3. any of the fibres of certain similar or related plants
Also called: sisal hemp

Word Origin for sisal

C19: from Mexican Spanish, named after Sisal, a port in Yucatán, Mexico
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 sisal

1883, short for Sisal hemp or grass (1843), from Sisal, port in Yucatan, from which the rope-making fiber was exported.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper