Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
"liquid in a plant," Old English sæpm from Proto-Germanic *sapam (cf. Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, Dutch sap, Old High German saf, German Saft "juice"), from PIE *sab- "juice, fluid" (cf. Latin sapere "to taste"), from root *sab- "juice, fluid" (cf. Sanskrit sabar- "sap, milk, nectar," Irish sug, Russian soku "sap," Lithuanian sakas "tree-gum"). As a verb meaning "To drain the sap from," 1725.
"simpleton," 1815, originally especially in Scottish and English schoolboy slang, probably from earlier sapskull (1735), saphead (1798), from sap as a shortened form of sapwood "soft wood between the inner bark and the heartwood" (late 14c.), from sap (n.1) + wood (n.); so called because it conducts the sap; cf. sappy.
"dig a trench toward the enemy's position," 1590s, from Middle French saper, from sappe "spade," from Late Latin sappa "spade" (cf. Italian zappa, Spanish zapa "spade"). Extended sense "weaken or destroy insidiously" is from 1755, probably influenced by the verb form of sap (n.1), on the notion of "draining the vital sap from." Related: Sapped; sapping.
"hit with a sap," 1926, from sap (n.3). Related: Sapped; sapping.
A stupid person; fool, esp a gullible one: Quit acting like a sap
[1815+; fr British dialect, short for sapskull, ''person with a head full of soft material''; probably influenced by early 1800s British schoolboy slang, ''compulsive studier, grind,'' which is probably fr sap as an ironic abbreviation of Latin sapiens, ''wise,'' and is hence semantically akin to sophomore]
A blackjack; bludgeon: The sap, a nice little tool about five inches long, covered with woven brown leather (1899+)verb
: One of the others sapped him from behind with the blackjack (1926+)
[perhaps fr Middle English sappe,''shovel,''theshovelbeingforagesapopularclub]
watery fluid of plants. Cell sap is a fluid found in the vacuoles (small cavities) of the living cell; it contains variable amounts of food and waste materials, inorganic salts, and nitrogenous compounds. Xylem sap carries soil nutrients (e.g., dissolved minerals) from the root system to the leaves; the water is then lost through transpiration. Maple sap is xylem sap, containing some sugar in late winter. Phloem, or sieve-tube, sap is the fluid carrying sugar from leaves to other parts of the plant in the summer. See also cohesion hypothesis.