sas·​sa·​fras ˈsa-sə-ˌfras How to pronounce sassafras (audio)
: an eastern North American tree (Sassafras albidum) of the laurel family having both ovate and lobed aromatic leaves
: the carcinogenic dried root bark of the sassafras used formerly as a diaphoretic or flavoring agent

Examples of sassafras in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Fresh, lively pinot noir with flavors of cherries and sassafras, this affordable wine makes for easy sipping on its own or with food. Dave McIntyre, Washington Post, 1 Dec. 2022 Raleigh was also attempting to gain a monopoly over sassafras, and he was later imprisoned for treason. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Discover Magazine, 16 Nov. 2021 Black cherry, thyme and a hint of sassafras — simple, straightforward and delicious. Dave McIntyre, Washington Post, 22 Dec. 2022 To date, the Denos have used 28 types of wood, including walnut, oak, elm, sycamore, sassafras and teak. Mike Klingaman, Baltimore Sun, 17 Aug. 2022 Kwiatkowski said luna moth caterpillars are also known to feed on the leaves of hickory, birch, red maple, white oak, and sassafras. Don Lyman,, 16 June 2022 Some might incorporate original 19th-century doorways, while others have gas fireplaces and Tasmanian sassafras-wood ceilings. Travel + Leisure, 12 Apr. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Spanish sasafrás

First Known Use

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sassafras was in 1577

Dictionary Entries Near sassafras

Cite this Entry

“Sassafras.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


sas·​sa·​fras ˈsas-(ə-)ˌfras How to pronounce sassafras (audio)
: a tall eastern North American tree that is related to the laurels and has fragrant yellow flowers and bluish black berries
also : its dried root bark used formerly in medicine or as a flavoring

Medical Definition


sas·​sa·​fras ˈsas-ə-ˌfras How to pronounce sassafras (audio)
: a tall eastern North American tree (Sassafras albidum) of the laurel family (Lauraceae) with mucilaginous twigs and leaves
: the dried root bark of the sassafras formerly used as a diaphoretic and flavoring agent but now prohibited for use as a flavoring or food additive because of its carcinogenic properties

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