Definition of rhizome in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈrʌɪzəʊm/


A continuously growing horizontal underground stem which puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals. Compare with bulb (sense 1).
Example sentences
  • The plant is tough to stamp out because it develops a system of roots and rhizomes, horizontal underground stems that descend as far as six feet into the sand.
  • In addition, shrub roots and rhizomes grow into above-ground gaps, making below-ground gaps smaller than above-ground gaps.
  • Mucilages found in rhizomes, roots and seed endosperms may act primarily as energy reserves whereas foliar mucilages appear not to serve as storage carbohydrates.


Mid 19th century: from Greek rhizōma, from rhizousthai 'take root', based on rhiza 'root'.

  • liquorice from Middle English:

    Contrary to appearances, liquorice has no connection with liquor (Middle English) which comes directly from Latin. The word goes back to a Greek compound formed from glukus ‘sweet’ (source of glucose (mid 19th century)), and rhiza ‘root’ (as in rhizome (mid 19th century)). Liquorice is made by evaporating the juice of the root of certain members of the pea family. Liquorice allsorts were introduced in 1899. The story behind their invention is that a salesman from the company, Bassett's, was visiting a client and showing him samples of the various liquorice sweets that the company made. The client was unimpressed by any of them until the salesman gathered up his samples to leave and in doing so dropped them all, creating a mix of sweets that the client liked.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: rhi|zome

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.