arrowroot

Definitions

Agriculture

  • noun a tropical plant (Maranta arundinacea) whose tubers yield starch. Used particularly in the preparation of invalid foods, since this form of starch is easily digested.

Food

  • masculine A starch powder obtained from the root of a West Indian plant, Maranta arundinacea, used for thickening where a clear, glossy glaze is required.

Travel

  • noun a thickening agent in the form of a white powder made from the root of a west Indian plant

Origin & History of “arrowroot”

Arrowroot, a tropical American plant with starchy tubers, gets its name by folk etymology, the process whereby an unfamiliar foreign word is reformulated along lines more accessible to the speakers of a language. In this case the word in question was aru-aru, the term used by the Arawak Indians of south America for the plant (meaning literally ‘meal of meals’). English-speakers adapted this to arrowroot because the root of the plant was used by the Indians to heal wounds caused by poisoned arrows.
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