ginger (n.)

mid-14c., from Old English gingifer, gingiber, from Late Latin gingiber, from Latin zingiberi, from Greek zingiberis, from Prakrit (Middle Indic) singabera, from Sanskrit srngaveram, from srngam "horn" + vera- "body," so called from the shape of its root. But this may be Sanskrit folk etymology, and the word may be from an ancient Dravidian word that also produced the Malayalam name for the spice, inchi-ver, from inchi "root."

The word apparently was readopted in Middle English from Old French gingibre (12c., Modern French gingembre). In reference to coloring, by 1785 of fighting cocks, 1885 of persons (gingery with reference to hair is from 1852). Meaning "spirit, spunk, temper" is from 1843, American English (see gin (v.1)). Ginger-ale is recorded by 1822, the term adopted by manufacturers to distinguish their product from ginger beer (1809), which was sometimes fermented. Ginger-snap as a type of hard cookie flavored with ginger is from 1855, American English.

updated on December 07, 2018

Definitions of ginger from WordNet
ginger (n.)
perennial plants having thick branching aromatic rhizomes and leafy reedlike stems;
ginger (n.)
dried ground gingerroot;
Synonyms: powdered ginger
ginger (n.)
pungent rhizome of the common ginger plant; used fresh as a seasoning especially in Asian cookery;
Synonyms: gingerroot
ginger (n.)
liveliness and energy;
Synonyms: pep / peppiness
ginger (v.)
add ginger to in order to add flavor;
ginger the soup
ginger (adj.)
(used especially of hair or fur) having a bright orange-brown color;
a ginger kitten
Synonyms: gingery
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