Definition of sainfoin in English:



  • [mass noun] A pink-flowered plant of the pea family, which is native to Asia and grown widely for fodder.

    • ‘In August, open areas can be planted with perennial cover crops such as clover or sainfoin, sometimes called esparcet or holy clover.’
    • ‘Alongside the orchids other wild flowers such as yellow-wort, sainfoin and stemless thistle grow in abundance.’
    • ‘Conversion of common land to enclosures made possible new practices: creating water meadows and growing new crops such as sainfoin and lucerne to augment supplies of animal winter fodder.’
    • ‘Only in Flanders and a few contiguous districts was grain rotated with soil-restoring fodder crops, such as clover, lucerne, and sainfoin, and fallow thus eliminated.’


Mid 17th century: from obsolete French saintfoin, from modern Latin sanum foenum wholesome hay (with reference to its medicinal properties).