1 [sap]
the juice or vital circulating fluid of a plant, especially of a woody plant.
any vital body fluid.
energy; vitality.
Slang. a fool; dupe.
Metallurgy. soft metal at the core of a bar of blister steel.
verb (used with object), sapped, sapping.
to drain the sap from.

before 900; Middle English; Old English sæp; cognate with Dutch sap; akin to German Saft juice, Old Norse safi; in def. 5 a shortening of saphead Unabridged


2 [sap]
Fortification. a deep, narrow trench constructed so as to form an approach to a besieged place or an enemy's position.
verb (used with object), sapped, sapping.
to approach (a besieged place or an enemy position) by means of deep, narrow trenches protected by gabions or parapets.
to dig such trenches in (ground).
to undermine; weaken or destroy insidiously.
verb (used without object), sapped, sapping.
Fortification. to dig a sap.

1585–95; < French sape (noun), derivative of saper to dig a trench < Italian zappare, a military term, based on zappa hoe (compare dialectal Italian zappo he-goat < ?)

3. impair, enfeeble, deplete, exhaust, enervate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
sap1 (sæp)
1.  a solution of mineral salts, sugars, etc, that circulates in a plant
2.  any vital body fluid
3.  energy; vigour
4.  slang a gullible or foolish person
5.  another name for sapwood
vb , saps, sapping, sapped
6.  to drain of sap
[Old English sæp; related to Old High German sapf, German Saft juice, Middle Low German sapp, Sanskrit sabar milk juice]

sap2 (sæp)
1.  a deep and narrow trench used to approach or undermine an enemy position, esp in siege warfare
vb , saps, sapping, sapped
2.  to undermine (a fortification, etc) by digging saps
3.  (tr) to weaken
[C16 zappe, from Italian zappa spade, of uncertain origin; perhaps from Old Italian (dialect) zappo a goat]

abbreviation for
South African Police

SAP2 (sæp)
n acronym for
Standard Assessment Procedure, the recognized performance indicator for measuring energy efficiency in buildings

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"liquid in a plant," O.E. sæp, from P.Gmc. *sapom (cf. M.L.G., M.Du., Du. sap, O.H.G. saf, Ger. Saft "juice"), from PIE *sapon- (cf. L. sapere "to taste"), from base *sab- "juice, fluid" (cf. Skt. sabar- "sap, milk, nectar").

"simpleton," 1815, probably from earlier sapskull (1735), from sap as a shortened form of sapwood "soft wood between the inner bark and the heartwood," from sap (n.1) + wood, so called because it conducts the sap; cf. sappy.

"weaken or destroy insidiously," 1755, originally "dig a trench toward the enemy's position" (1598), from M.Fr. saper, from sappe "spade," from L.L. sappa "spade" (cf. It. zappa, Sp. zapa "spade"). The sense of "weaken" probably was influenced by the verb (1725) form of sap
(n.1) on the notion of "draining the vital sap from."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
sap   (sāp)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. The watery fluid that circulates through a plant that has vascular tissues. Sap moving up the xylem carries water and minerals, while sap moving down the phloem carries water and food.

  2. See cell sap.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
  1. service access point

  2. soon as possible (shortwave transmission)

The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Sapped energy is not the same thing as failure to meet a target.
To test this theory, they first deliberately sapped the mental powers of a
  number of volunteers.
My feeling is, that despite the claims, the creativity has been sapped out of
  the game by the simplicity of it.
The strength is sapped out of any fledgling open opposition.
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