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[sap] /sæp/
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.
Origin of sap1
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


[sap] /sæp/
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.
  1. to approach (a besieged place or an enemy position) by means of deep, narrow trenches protected by gabions or parapets.
  2. 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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sap
  • Amber is a semiprecious gemstone formed from fossilized tree sap.
  • Before using cut flowers in arrangements, dip stems in boiling water or hold in a flame for a few seconds to prevent sap bleed.
  • Extremely temperamental connections sap the fun out of things.
  • We pruned a broken branch from our maple last weekend, and the tree started to ooze a lot of watery sap.
  • Having fed on root sap during their underground life, mature cicadas have no need to eat and indeed no mouths.
  • Cut a handful of peach twigs, which are filled with sap at this season of the year.
  • Be sure to keep milky sap away from eyes, as it can cause severe damage.
  • Early in the process, when sap production is heaviest, you may need to check more often.
  • The collective budget-cutting will sap the recovery.
  • Indians made canoe paddles from the wood, and maple sugar can be obtained from the sap.
British Dictionary definitions for sap


a solution of mineral salts, sugars, etc, that circulates in a plant
any vital body fluid
energy; vigour
(slang) a gullible or foolish person
another name for sapwood
verb (transitive) saps, sapping, sapped
to drain of sap
Derived Forms
sapless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English sæp; related to Old High German sapf, German Saft juice, Middle Low German sapp, Sanskrit sabar milk juice


a deep and narrow trench used to approach or undermine an enemy position, esp in siege warfare
verb saps, sapping, sapped
to undermine (a fortification, etc) by digging saps
(transitive) to weaken
Word Origin
C16 zappe, from Italian zappa spade, of uncertain origin; perhaps from Old Italian (dialect) zappo a goat


South African Police


noun acronym (in Britain)
Standard Assessment Procedure, the recognized performance indicator for measuring energy efficiency in buildings
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 sap

"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.

"club, stick for hitting," 1899, from shortening of sapwood (see sap (n.2)) or sapling.


"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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sap in Science
  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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Slang definitions & phrases for sap

sap 1


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]

sap 2


A blackjack; bludgeon: The sap, a nice little tool about five inches long, covered with woven brown leather (1899+)


: One of the others sapped him from behind with the blackjack (1926+)

[perhaps fr Middle English sappe,''shovel,''theshovelbeingforagesapopularclub]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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sap in Technology

1. SAP AG (Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing).
2. Service Advertising Protocol.
3. Service Access Point.
4. Symbolic Assembler Program.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Related Abbreviations for sap


  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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