American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A powdery starch obtained from the trunks of certain sago palms and used in Asia as a food thickener and textile stiffener.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An amylaceous food derived from the soft spongy interior, the so-called “pith,” of the trunks of various palms. (See sago-palm.) The tree, which in the case of the proper sago-palms naturally flowers but once, is felled when just ready to flower, the trunk cut in pieces, the pith-like matter separated, and the starch washed from it. After due settling, the water is drained off, and the deposited starch may be caked, as it is for native use, or dried into a meal which is converted into pearl-sago. This is the ordinary granulated sago of the market, consisting of fine pearly grains, brownish or sometimes bleached white, prepared by making the meal into a paste and pressing this through a sieve.
- n. A powdered starch obtained from certain palms used as a food thickener.
- n. Any of the palms from which sago is extracted.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A dry granulated starch imported from the East Indies, much used for making puddings and as an article of diet for the sick; also, as starch, for stiffening textile fabrics. It is prepared from the stems of several East Indian and Malayan palm trees, but chiefly from the Metroxylon Sagu; also from several cycadaceous plants (Cycas revoluta, Zamia integrifolia, etc.).
- n. powdery starch from certain sago palms; used in Asia as a food thickener and textile stiffener
- Malay sagu, via Portuguese or Dutch. (Wiktionary)
- Malay sagu, mealy pith. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“In addition, the sago is tasteless almost and needs careful seasoning.”
“Unlike rice or barley, sago is not the fruit of a tiny stem, – it is the pith of the trunk of a great tree.”
“One trunk of a tree in its fifteenth year sometimes yields six hundred pounds weight of sago, or meal (for the word sago signifies meal in the dialect of Amboyna).”
“The villagers of the mainland of Ceram bring their sago, which is thus distributed to the islands farther east, while rice from Bali and Macassar can also be purchased at a moderate price.”
“In Thailand tapioca is known as sago, which can lead to confusion with true sago starch obtained from the sago palm, Metroxylon sagu.”
“In the Moluccos the staple crop is not rice, but sago, which is prepared from the sap of the sago-palm.”
“Our conductor called the sago tree _sibla_, but the Malays give it the name of _rumbiga_.”
“The Malays call the sago-tree the _rumbiya_ and its pith _sagu_ from which word we get our name _sago_.”
“In the Borneo section there are exhibits of oils, also sago, which is a white powder-the dried sap of a tree.”
“Along the edge of the cogon lands are many large _buri_ palms,  from which a starch commercially known as sago is secured.”
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