[ tur-mer-ik ]
/ ˈtɜr mər ɪk /


the aromatic rhizome of an Asian plant, Curcuma domestica (or C. longa), of the ginger family.
a powder prepared from it, used as a condiment, as in curry powder, or as a yellow dye, a medicine, etc.
the plant itself.
any of various similar substances or plants.

Origin of turmeric

1530–40; earlier tarmaret < Medieval Latin terra merita merited earth, unexplained name for curcuma
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for turmeric

British Dictionary definitions for turmeric


/ (ˈtɜːmərɪk) /


a tropical Asian zingiberaceous plant, Curcuma longa, having yellow flowers and an aromatic underground stem
the powdered stem of this plant, used as a condiment and as a yellow dye
any of several other plants with similar roots

Word Origin for turmeric

C16: from Old French terre merite, from Medieval Latin terra merita, literally: meritorious earth, name applied for obscure reasons to curcuma
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 turmeric



pungent powder made from the root of an East Indian plant, 1530s, from Middle English turmeryte (early 15c.), of uncertain origin, perhaps from Middle French terremérite "saffron," from Medieval Latin terra merita, literally "worthy earth," though the reason why it would be called this is obscure.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper