- asparagus:  Asparagus comes ultimately from Greek aspáragos (a word related to the Greek verb spargan ‘swell’, to the Latin verb spargere ‘scatter’ – ultimate source of English sparse, disperse, and aspersions – and also to English spark), and has over the past 150 years or so returned to the full Latin form, asparagus, in which it was originally borrowed by English.
In the intervening centuries, however, it went through several metamorphoses: in the 16th century, the truncated medieval Latin variant sparagus was current (it also occurs in one isolated example from a book of Anglo-Saxon remedies of around 1000 AD); from then until the 18th century an anglicized version, sperage, was used; and in the 17th century folk etymology (the process by which an unfamiliar word is assimilated to one more familiar) turned asparagus into sparrowgrass.
This gradually died out during the 19th century, but the abbreviation grass remains current in the jargon of the grocery trade.
=> aspersion, spark
- asparagus (n.)
- late 14c., aspergy; late Old English sparage, from Latin asparagus (in Medieval Latin often sparagus), from Greek asparagos, which is of uncertain origin; probably from PIE root *sp(h)er(e)g- "to spring up" (though perhaps not originally a Greek word).
In Middle English, asperages sometimes was regarded as a plural, with false singular aspergy. By 16c. the word had been anglicized as far as sperach, sperage. It was respelled by c. 1600 to conform with classical Latin, but in 17c. the folk-etymologized variant sparrowgrass took hold, persisting into 19c., during which time asparagus had "an air of stiffness and pedantry" [John Walker, "Critical Pronouncing Dictionary," 1791]. Known in Old English as eorðnafela.
- 1. Trim any tough or woody stalks from the asparagus.
- 2. Anton the chef concocts a sensual coupling of lobster and asparagus.
- 3. Layer the potatoes, asparagus and salmon in the tin.
- 4. Now British asparagus is in season.
- 5. Asparagus is reputed to be an aphrodisiac.
[ asparagus 造句 ]