• synonyms


[tap-root, -roo t]
noun Botany.
  1. a main root descending downward from the radicle and giving off small lateral roots.
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Origin of taproot

First recorded in 1595–1605; tap2 + root1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tap-root

Historical Examples

  • It is to cut the tap-root of their strength, and to imperil their very existence.

    A Tour of the Missions

    Augustus Hopkins Strong

  • Does the plant have a tap-root, or do the roots spread laterally?

  • You were such a devil of a fellow for getting at the tap-root of a subject.

    The Heart of Canyon Pass

    Thomas K. Holmes

  • If it goes on to grow it makes a main or tap-root, as in Fig. 37, etc.

  • It is the tap-root of progress, as Mr. Lowell well points out.

British Dictionary definitions for tap-root


  1. the large single root of plants such as the dandelion, which grows vertically downwards and bears smaller lateral roots
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Derived Formstaprooted, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from tap ² + root 1
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 tap-root



c.1600, from tap (n.) + root (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tap-root in Science


[tăprōōt′, -rut′]
  1. The main root in gymnosperms, eudicotyledons, and magnoliids, usually stouter than the lateral roots and growing straight downward from the stem. The taproot develops from the primary root. The taproot and its lateral roots penetrate deeper into the soil than the fibrous roots characteristic of monocotyledons. Compare fibrous root.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

tap-root in Culture


The single deep root of many deciduous trees that forms the basis for their root systems.

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Figuratively, a “taproot” is the source of an idea or work: “His childhood in Wales is the taproot of his poetry.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.