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[al-fal-fuh] /ælˈfæl fə/
a plant, Medicago sativa, of the legume family, usually having bluish-purple flowers, originating in the Near East and widely cultivated as a forage crop.
Also called lucerne, purple medic.
Origin of alfalfa
1835-45; < Spanish, variant of alfalfez < Spanish Arabic al the + faṣfaṣah < Persian ispist lucerne Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for alfalfa
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The most valuable in providing hay are the medium red, alfalfa and alsike.

  • And near them long trains of burros laden with grain, alfalfa, straw, or wood.

    Aztec Land Maturin M. Ballou
  • I've got a ten-acre orange grove now and two hundred acres of alfalfa and a foreman who lets me gad!

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • The Dean could have been enticed away to examine the alfalfa and the pumping system.

    The Forbidden Trail Honor Willsie
  • We have our grub box filled, and our oil can; also grain for the horses and some alfalfa hay.

    The Cruise of a Schooner Albert W. Harris
British Dictionary definitions for alfalfa


a leguminous plant, Medicago sativa, of Europe and Asia, having compound leaves with three leaflets and clusters of small purplish flowers. It is widely cultivated for forage and as a nitrogen fixer and used as a commercial source of chlorophyll Also called lucerne
Word Origin
C19: from Spanish, from Arabic al-fasfasah, from al the + fasfasah the best sort of fodder
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for alfalfa

1845, from Spanish alfalfa, earlier alfalfez, from Arabic al-fisfisa "fresh fodder."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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