Definitions

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

  • n. A deciduous eastern North American tree (Sassafras albidum) having irregularly lobed leaves and aromatic bark, leaves, and branches.
  • n. The dried root bark of this plant, used as a flavoring and a source of a volatile oil.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tree of species Sassafras albidum of the eastern United States and Asia having mitten-shaped leaves and red, aromatic heartwood.
  • n. A tree of any species in the genus Sassafras.
  • n. The bark of the root of this plant, used for medicinal and (mostly historically) culinary purposes and formerly a main ingredient in root beer.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An American tree of the Laurel family (Sassafras officinale); also, the bark of the roots, which has an aromatic smell and taste.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A tree, the only species of the genus Sassafras.
  • n. [capitalized] [NL. (C. G. Nees, 1836).] A genus of apetalous trees of the order Laurineæ and tribe Litseaceæ, characterized by an umbel-like inflorescence of diœcious flowers in loose and short racemes from terminal buds, and produced around the base of the new growth of the season.
  • n. Of New South Wales: Dorypha Sassafras of the same order, another large tree, with very fragrant leaves, and aromatic bark used in infusion as a tonic.
  • n. Of Queensland: a smaller related tree, Daphnandra micrantha.
  • n. A smaller related tree, Daphnandra micrantha, of the family Monimiaceæ.

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

  • n. yellowwood tree with brittle wood and aromatic leaves and bark; source of sassafras oil; widely distributed in eastern North America
  • n. dried root bark of the sassafras tree

Etymologies

Spanish sasafrás, from Late Latin saxifragia, kind of herb, variant of (herba) saxifraga, saxifrage; see saxifrage.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Spanish sasafras, possibly from Latin saxifragus ("stone-breaking") from the habit of certain plants growing in cracks in boulders. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The sassafras is rusty, the beeches have yet to go from green to gold, and those wily, ancient oaks are always the last to give up their autumnal ghosts.

    2006 October - Telic Thoughts

  • _Hartshorn_ applied to the stings of poisonous insects will allay the pain and stop the swelling; or apply oil of sassafras, which is better.

    The Whitehouse Cookbook (1887) The Whole Comprising a Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information for the Home

  • The sassafras is a beautiful shrub, and I cannot imagine why it has not been naturalized in England, for it has every appearance of being extremely hardy.

    Domestic Manners of the Americans

  • She recalled the sassafras trees reaching much larger proportions and the wood being valued by chair makers for its lightness and resiliency.

    Everyday Citizen

  • When Gosnold prepared to return to England in his vessel, the "Concord," with a cargo of native products, such as sassafras, cedar, etc., those who had planned to remain and settle returned with him, fearing that they might not share in the expected profits.

    The New England Magazine, Volume 1, No. 5, Bay State Monthly, Volume 4, No. 5, May, 1886

  • They love the leaves from trees, especially sassafras trees, and gobble them up quickly.

    Archive 2010-06-01

  • Some natural sassafras and nutmeg from the grapes, but none of the over-the-top oak to mask what might or might not be present in the fruit.

    Red, With Envy: Assessing 2007 Finger Lakes Reds

  • I am soooo glad I don't get hangovers ... and YES I do drink. sassafras

    Hangover Cures: Myth, Legend, Fact | Lifehacker Australia

  • On Saturday mornings my mother would run into people she knew buying homemade pies, dried sassafras bark, or green bell peppers such exotic items in the southern Indiana of the early 1970s, before globalization folded the ends of the earth together, that people referred to them as “mangoes”.

    Day of Honey

  • I would bring this uncouth congregation to my oasis, dense with ticks and garden snakes a hidden patch of scrub and sassafras gone mad in the sticky summer sweetness pulling at its uneasy borders of drainage ditch and fussy trim lawns.

    Lotus-eaters

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