sas·​sa·​fras | \ ˈsa-sə-ˌfras How to pronounce sassafras (audio) \

Definition of sassafras

1 : an eastern North American tree (Sassafras albidum) of the laurel family having both ovate and lobed aromatic leaves
2 : 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 Some might incorporate original 19th-century doorways, while others have gas fireplaces and Tasmanian sassafras-wood ceilings. Travel + Leisure, 12 Apr. 2022 Black cherry, thyme and a hint of sassafras — simple, straightforward and delicious. Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2022 Elsewhere, maidenhair, blue cohosh and sassafras abound, auguries of a nutrient-heavy, fertile forest floor. Jonny Diamond, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Jan. 2022 My Grandmama talked about living off of livers and gizzards and poke salad, sassafras tea and chicory root. The New Yorker, 23 Nov. 2021 The woodlands contain many tree species, including shag bark hickory, sassafras and flowering dogwoods. Beth Mlady, cleveland, 4 Sep. 2021 Three-fifths of the surrounding county was state or federal forest, thick with mountain laurel and, in warmer months, teeming with mushrooms, ramps, ginseng, goldenseal, and sassafras. Stephen Kurczy, Wired, 3 Aug. 2021 This savory blend of sangiovese, merlot and sagrantino is deep and sophisticated, with notes of dark plums, cherries, cloves and sassafras. Washington Post, 16 July 2021 One of owner Katherine Clapner’s latest creations is a lemon-sassafras soft serve with fresh-baked vanilla bean scone crumble and dewberry compote. Cristin Espinosa, Dallas News, 22 June 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sassafras.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of sassafras

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sassafras

Spanish sasafrás

Learn More About sassafras

Time Traveler for sassafras

Time Traveler

The first known use of sassafras was in 1577

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near sassafras



sassafras laurel

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for sassafras

Last Updated

18 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sassafras.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for sassafras


sas·​sa·​fras | \ ˈsa-sə-ˌfras How to pronounce sassafras (audio) \

Kids Definition of sassafras

: a tall tree of eastern North America whose dried root bark was formerly used in medicine or as a flavoring


sas·​sa·​fras | \ ˈsas-ə-ˌfras How to pronounce sassafras (audio) \

Medical Definition of sassafras

1 : a tall eastern North American tree (Sassafras albidum) of the laurel family (Lauraceae) with mucilaginous twigs and leaves
2 : 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

More from Merriam-Webster on sassafras

Nglish: Translation of sassafras for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about sassafras


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!