Definition of asparagus in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈsparəɡəs/


1A tall plant of the lily family with fine feathery foliage, cultivated for its edible shoots.
  • Asparagus officinalis, family Liliaceae.
Example sentences
  • A member of the lily family, asparagus is also related to onions, leeks and garlic.
  • Asparagus beetles tend to shy away from asparagus when tomatoes, parsley or basil are planted nearby.
  • Despite the admirable longevity of an established asparagus bed, the plants get off to a slow start.
1.1 [mass noun] The tender young shoots of the asparagus plant, eaten as a vegetable.
Example sentences
  • Good sources of folate include oranges, green leafy vegetables, asparagus and cantaloupe melon.
  • Combine the corn with steamed green vegetables like asparagus and offer baked potatoes to ensure the children don't go hungry.
  • The tender, juicy asparagus provides a counterpoint to the fried food.


Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek asparagos.

  • The vegetable we know as asparagus was originally called sparagus (from medieval Latin), which was soon turned into the more English-sounding sparrow-grass. This process is called folk etymology, where people modify the form of an unusual word to make it seem to be derived from familiar ones. Sparrow-grass remained the polite name for the vegetable during the 18th century, with only botanists sticking to the spelling asparagus. As the compiler of a pronunciation dictionary wrote in 1791: ‘Sparrow-grass is so general that asparagus has an air of stiffness and pedantry.’ It wasn't until the 19th century that asparagus returned into literary and polite use, leaving sparrow-grass to survive as an English dialect form.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: as¦para|gus

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