Definition of sarsaparilla in English:



mass noun
  • 1A preparation of the dried rhizomes of various plants, especially smilax, used to flavour some drinks and medicines and formerly as a tonic.

    1. 1.1 A sweet drink flavoured with sarsaparilla.
      ‘a jug of sarsaparilla’
      • ‘And he had a reputation of being a bit of a dandy in college, because, you know, he'd have a glass of sarsaparilla.’
      • ‘The characters are relaxing, enjoying mead, grog, and various other old-timesy type drinks that no one actually drinks anymore like sarsaparilla, sherry, or wine coolers.’
      • ‘You don't think that she's just selling sarsaparilla in that bar of hers, do ya?’
      • ‘There was the festival's customary unlimited bowling, plenty of oat sodas, sarsaparillas and White Russians.’
      • ‘Go drown your sorrows at the local soda fountain in a tall, possibly dirty glass of sarsaparilla with the rest of the milquetoasts.’
      • ‘To show how long ago it's been, Larry: in the shack in the evening around a sarsaparilla or two, we used to talk about how very soon that there would be live coverage of war.’
      • ‘With barely time for the sarsaparilla he jokingly promised himself on the flight back to London last Friday, he is mapping out where the mobile phone giant will go next.’
  • 2The tropical American climbing plant from which sarsaparilla is generally obtained.

    Genus Smilax, family Liliaceae: several species, in particular S. regelii, which is the chief source of commercial sarsaparilla

    • ‘Herbs such as iris versicolor, mullein, red root bark, burdock, echinacea, cleavers, red clover, ginger, yellow dock, sarsaparilla, elder flower and yarrow are good lymph movers and detoxifiers.’
    • ‘China-root came from an Asian plant related to sarsaparilla.’
    • ‘Fruits and herbs to specifically reduce uric acid kidney stones are cherries, meadowsweet, sarsaparilla, Joe Pye weed, and plantain, which is widely used by the Chinese to treat kidney problems.’
    • ‘Among the wildflowers are a red columbine, aster, figwort, wild sarsaparilla, fleabane, and avens.’
    • ‘The seeds of bristly sarsaparilla, currant, and soapberry lie dormant in the soil and germinate only after being burned; ecologists call the process ‘seed banking.’’


Late 16th century: from Spanish zarzaparilla, from zarza ‘bramble’ + a diminutive of parra ‘vine’.