pars·​nip ˈpär-snəp How to pronounce parsnip (audio)
: a Eurasian biennial herb (Pastinaca sativa) of the carrot family with large pinnate leaves and yellow flowers that is cultivated for its long tapered whitish root which is cooked as a vegetable
also : the root

Illustration of parsnip

Illustration of parsnip

Did you know?

The word parsnip was borrowed into Middle English in the 14th century as a modification of the Old French word pasnaie, itself derived from the Latin noun pastinaca, meaning "parsnip" or "carrot." The scientific name for the parsnip, "Pastinaca sativa," still reflects this history. "Pastinaca," in turn, traces back to "pastinum," a Latin word for a small gardening tool used to make holes in the ground for the insertion of plants, seeds, or bulbs. "Parsnip" may also remind you of the name of another edible root, "turnip," and there's a possible explanation for the resemblance. The Middle English spelling of "parsnip" ("passenep") may have been influenced by "nepe," the old form of "turnip."

Examples of parsnip in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Young recommends that hard vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips and broccoli stems, be cut into 1/4-inch dice. Becky Krystal, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 Cube your go-to root veggies, like sweet potatoes, carrots, or parsnips, and sauté them until tender with other tasty mix-ins, like onions and peppers. Ashia Aubourg, SELF, 26 Jan. 2024 Try subbing leeks or shallots for the onion, celeriac or fennel for the celery, and parsnips or turnips for the carrots. Jessica Harlan, Southern Living, 26 Dec. 2023 For the vegetables, carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, parsnips, cauliflower, peas, and green beans are classic counterparts to the roast, yorkies, and crispy roasties. Karla Walsh, Better Homes & Gardens, 24 Dec. 2023 Add vegetables and beans to slow cooker: Place potatoes, onion, carrots, beans, parsnips, celery, broth, garlic, pepper, salt, and bacon in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Julia Levy, Southern Living, 12 Jan. 2024 Oats pair especially well with savory ingredients that can stand up to the grain’s deep, earthy flavor — mushrooms, onions, root vegetables (carrots, beets, parsnips and celery root), peppers, winter squash, herbs and sharp cheeses, for example. Ellie Krieger, Washington Post, 10 Jan. 2024 Plant winter root vegetable seeds (not seedlings) now: beets, turnips, radishes, carrots, rutabagas, parsnips. Plant greens and cabbage family plants from seed or seedling: lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and more. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Dec. 2023 Toss in some different hearty vegetables such as turnips, parsnips or sunchokes. Julie Giuffrida, Los Angeles Times, 3 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'parsnip.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English passenep, modification of Old French pasnaie, from Latin pastinaca, from pastinum 2-pronged dibble

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of parsnip was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near parsnip

Cite this Entry

“Parsnip.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


pars·​nip ˈpär-snəp How to pronounce parsnip (audio)
: a Eurasian herb related to the carrot and grown for its long white root which is cooked as a vegetable
also : this root

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