1620s, in a military sense, "soldier employed in building fortifications, field-works, etc.," agent noun from sap (v.1).
c. 1500, "of or pertaining to Sappho or her poems," especially in reference to her characteristic meter, from French saphique, from Latin Sapphicus, from Greek Sapphikos "of Sappho," in reference to Sapphō, Greek lyric poetess of the isle of Lesbos who flourished c. 600 B.C.E. and was famed for the passion and loveliness of her verse, which survives mostly in fragments. The sense of "pertaining to sexual relations between women" is from 1890s (also see Sapphism, and compare lesbian).
precious stone, a blue-to-transparent variety of corundum next in hardness to diamond, mid-13c., saphyr, from Old French saphir (12c.) and directly from Latin sapphirus (source also of Spanish zafir, Italian zaffiro), from Greek sappheiros, name of a blue precious stone, from a Semitic source (compare Hebrew sappir "sapphire"), but according to OED probably not ultimately from Semitic.
Some linguists propose an origin in Sanskrit sanipriya, a dark precious stone (perhaps sapphire or emerald), literally "sacred to Saturn," from Sani "Saturn" + priyah "precious." The gem meant by the Greeks apparently was not the one now so called, but perhaps rather lapis lazuli, the modern sapphire perhaps being signified by Greek hyakinthos. In Renaissance lapidaries, it was said to cure anger and stupidity. As an adjective from early 15c. As a color, a deep brilliant or bright blue, by 1680s. Related: Sapphiric.
early 15c., "sapphire-colored," later also "made of sapphire, having the qualities of sapphire," from Latin sapphirinus, from Greek sappheirinos, from sappheiros (see sapphire (n.)).
Middle English sapi, of a tree or of wood, "full of sap," from Late Old English sæpig, from sæp "sap of a plant" (see sap (n.1)). The colloquial figurative sense, in reference to persons, etc., "foolish, foolishly sentimental" (1660s) might have developed from an intermediate sense of "too wet, sodden, soggy" (late 15c.), or it might have come from sappy as "containing sapwood" (mid-15c.); compare sap (n.2). Or it might be from the notion of "green, juvenile," like a sapling tree. Earlier, now obsolete, figurative senses were "full of vitality" (1550s) and "immature" (1620s). Related: Sappily; sappiness.
word-forming element in science indicating "rotten, putrid, decaying," from Greek sapros "rotting, rotten, rancid," also, of wine, "matured," which is related to sēpein "to rot," a word of unknown origin.