the aromatic rhizome of an Asian plant, Curcuma domestica (or C. longa ), of the ginger family.
a powder prepared from it, used as a condiment, as in curry powder, or as a yellow dye, a medicine, etc.
the plant itself.
any of various similar substances or plants.

1530–40; earlier tarmaret < Medieval Latin terra merita merited earth, unexplained name for curcuma

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World English Dictionary
turmeric (ˈtɜːmərɪk)
1.  a tropical Asian zingiberaceous plant, Curcuma longa, having yellow flowers and an aromatic underground stem
2.  the powdered stem of this plant, used as a condiment and as a yellow dye
3.  any of several other plants with similar roots
[C16: from Old French terre merite, from Medieval Latin terra merita, literally: meritorious earth, name applied for obscure reasons to curcuma]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1538, from M.E. turmeryte (early 15c.), perhaps from M.Fr. terremérite "saffron," from M.L. terra merita, lit. "worthy earth," though the reason why it would be called this is obscure.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Another spice that some people think of as a health food: turmeric.
But at the same time, it has a yellow turmeric path, which is the yellow brick
Think he meant turmeric, which is a component of some curries.
Remove the bay leaves and turmeric seeds from a box of mixed pickling spices
  and tie the remaining spices in a cheesecloth bag.
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