Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of several tropical American plants of the genus Smilax, having fragrant roots used as a flavoring.
  • n. The dried roots of any of these plants.
  • n. A sweet soft drink flavored with these roots.
  • n. Either of two North American plants (Aralia hispida or A. nudicaulis) having umbels of small white flowers and bipinnately compound leaves.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various tropical American vines, of the genus Smilax, having fragrant roots
  • n. The dried roots of these plants, or a flavoring material extracted from these roots
  • n. A soft drink flavored with this extract
  • n. Any of several North American plants, of the genus Aralia, having umbels and small white flowers

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any plant of several tropical American species of Smilax.
  • n. The bitter mucilaginous roots of such plants, used in medicine and in sirups for soda, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The rhizome of several plants of the genus Smilax, chiefly, it is believed, of S. medica, S. officinalis, and S. papyracea, all of tropical America.
  • n. Any plant of the order Smilaceæ.
  • n. A medicinal preparation of sarsaparilla-root.
  • n. Hardenbergia monophylla. See Hardenbergia.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of various prickly climbing plants of the tropical American genus Smilax having aromatic roots and heart-shaped leaves
  • n. carbonated drink flavored with an extract from sarsaparilla root or with birch oil and sassafras

Etymologies

Spanish zarzaparrilla : zarza, bramble (from Arabic šaras, colloquial variant of širs, from šarasa, to be vicious, ultimately from šarra; see śrr in Semitic roots) + parrilla, diminutive of parra, vine.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Spanish zarzaparrilla. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • They started homeward at noon, having drunk quarts of sarsaparilla to quench their thirst.

    - William Steig, Farmer Palmer's Wagon Ride

    September 21, 2008