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[pahr-snip] /ˈpɑr snɪp/
a plant, Pastinaca sativa, cultivated varieties of which have a large, whitish, edible root.
the root of this plant.
Origin of parsnip
1350-1400; earlier pars(e)nep, pass(e)nep, Middle English pas(t)nep(e) < Latin past(ināca) parsnip (derivative of pastinum forked dibble) + Middle English nep turnip; see neep Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for parsnip
Historical Examples
  • Meanwhile four men, especially chosen for the purpose, scour the adjoining country for parsnip stalks.

  • For musk-rats, we'd put a parsnip or an apple on the spindle of a box trap.

    Beautiful Joe Marshall Saunders
  • When the parsnip has been allowed to run wild the root is considered to be poisonous.

  • The parsnip is, after the potato, the most valuable of roots.

    The Stock-Feeder's Manual Charles Alexander Cameron
  • It was late in the afternoon when we reached the river and once again stood on the bank of the parsnip.

  • The flesh of cattle fed on the parsnip is also highly commended.

  • It resembles somewhat celery, and the root is something like the parsnip, for which it has been eaten.

    Poisons: Their Effects and Detection Alexander Wynter Blyth
  • The parsnip had its champions and its antagonists; the carrot its defenders and its assailants.

    One Third Off Irvin S. Cobb
  • We may smell a parsnip or a potato when it grows in the field, but not when it is cooked.

    The Holy Earth L. H. Bailey
  • The King here exhibited to his audience a dent on his head in the form of a parsnip.

    Bill the Minder W. Heath Robinson
British Dictionary definitions for parsnip


a strong-scented umbelliferous plant, Pastinaca sativa, cultivated for its long whitish root
the root of this plant, eaten as a vegetable
any of several similar plants, esp the cow parsnip
Word Origin
C14: from Old French pasnaie, from Latin pastināca, from pastināre to dig, from pastinum two-pronged tool for digging; also influenced by Middle English nepeturnip
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 parsnip

16c., parsnepe, corruption (by influence of Middle English nepe "turnip;" see neep) of Middle English passenep (late 14c.), from Old French pasnaise "parsnip," also "male member" (Modern French panais), from Latin pastinaca "parsnip, carrot," from pastinum "two-pronged fork" (related to pastinare "to dig up the ground"); so called from the shape of the root. The parsnip was considered a kind of turnip.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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