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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Fever: Milk, arrowroot, sago, eggs, tea and sugar, with bread.
▪ Rice was their basic food and their most important food crop, far ahead of maize, taro or sago.
▪ Those who were fortunate enough to be in the sick wards were given sago, or rice pudding instead.
▪ We had tomato soup for dinner, followed by roast beef and sago pudding, served airline-style on a tray.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Sago \Sa"go\ (s[=a]"g[-o]), n. [Malay. s[=a]gu.] A dry granulated starch imported from the East Indies, much used for making puddings and as an article of diet for the sick; also, as starch, for stiffening textile fabrics. It is prepared from the stems of several East Indian and Malayan palm trees, but chiefly from the Metroxylon Sagu; also from several cycadaceous plants ( Cycas revoluta, Zamia integrifolia, etc.). Portland sago, a kind of sago prepared from the corms of the cuckoopint ( Arum maculatum). Sago palm. (Bot.)

  1. A palm tree which yields sago.

  2. A species of Cycas ( Cycas revoluta).

    Sago spleen (Med.), a morbid condition of the spleen, produced by amyloid degeneration of the organ, in which a cross section shows scattered gray translucent bodies looking like grains of sago.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"starch made of the piths of palms," 1570s, via Portuguese and Dutch from Malay sagu, the name of the palm tree from which it is obtained (attested in English in this sense from 1550s). Also borrowed in French (sagou), Spanish (sagu), German (Sago).


n. 1 A powdered starch obtained from certain palms used as a food thickener. 2 Any of the palms from which sago is extracted.


n. powdery starch from certain sago palms; used in Asia as a food thickener and textile stiffener


Sago is a starch extracted from the spongy centre, or pith, of various tropical palm stems, especially Metroxylon sagu. It is a major staple food for the lowland peoples of New Guinea and the Moluccas, where it is called saksak, rabia and sagu. A type of flour, called sago flour, is made from sago. The largest supply of sago comes from the South East Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. Large quantities of sago are sent to Europe and North America for cooking purposes. It is traditionally cooked and eaten in various forms, such as rolled into balls, mixed with boiling water to form a paste, or as a pancake. Sago is often produced commercially in the form of "pearls". Sago pearls can be boiled with water or milk and sugar to make a sweet sago pudding. Sago pearls are similar in appearance to tapioca pearls and the two may be used interchangeably in some dishes.

The name sago is also sometimes used for starch extracted from other sources, especially the sago cycad, Cycas revoluta. The sago cycad is also commonly known (confusingly) as the sago palm, although this is a misnomer as cycads are not palms. Extracting edible starch from the sago cycad requires special care due to the poisonous nature of cycads. Cycad sago is used for many of the same purposes as palm sago. In Sri Lanka it is known as sawu or sau ( Sinhalese: සව්) and is used to prepare a congee named sawu kenda (Sinhalese: සව් කැඳ). In India, it is manufactured from extract of cassava i.e. tapioca-root, and popularly known as Tapioca Sago - Sabudana ( Urdu: ساگودانه; Hindi: साबुदाना; Marathi : साबुदाणा; Kannada : ಸಬ್ಬಕ್ಕಿ ; Gujarati: સાબુદાણા; Telugu: సగ్గు బియ్యం Tamil : சவ்வரிசி/ஜவ்வரிசி). Though strictly speaking the difference between sago and tapioca is that sago comes from the palm pith and tapioca from Cassava.

The fruit of palm trees from which the sago is produced is not allowed to ripen fully. The full ripening completes the life cycle of the tree and exhausts the starch centre to produce the seeds. It leaves a hollow shell and causes the tree to die. The palms are cut down when they are about 15 years old, just before they are ready to flower. The stems, which grow to 30 feet (9 metres high), are split out. The starch pith is taken from the stems and ground to powder. A single palm yields about 800 pounds (360 kilograms) of starch. The powder is kneaded in water over a cloth or sieve. It passes into a trough where it settles. After a few washings, the flour is ready to be used in cooking.

Sago (disambiguation)

Sago is a starch extracted from the stems of metroxylon sagu palms.

Sago may also refer to:

In plants:

  • Metroxylon sagu or sago palm, a palm from which sago is extracted
  • Cycas revoluta or sago cycad, a cycad from which starch also known as sago is extracted
  • Zamia integrifolia, another cycad plant sometimes called wild sago

In food:

  • Sago pudding, a sweet pudding made from sago
  • Schabziger, or Sap Sago, a cheese produced in Switzerland
  • Another name for tapioca pearls in some countries, like the Philippines, Bangladesh and Maldives

In places:

  • Mount Sago, Indonesia
  • Sago, Burkina Faso
  • Sago, Côte d'Ivoire
  • Sago, West Virginia, United States
  • Sago Lane, Singapore
  • Sago Street, Singapore
  • Sago Township, Minnesota, United States

In other uses:

  • Sago Mine disaster, occurred in Sago, West Virginia, in 2006
  • Sago palm weevil or red palm weevil, rhynchophorus ferrugineus
  • Sago worm, the larvae of the sago palm weevil

Usage examples of "sago".

The staple food of the people is sago, which they obtain from the sago-palm.

Accordingly in the months of May and June, when the sea is calm, the natives cross over to the mainland in their canoes and obtain a supply of sago in exchange for the products of their island.

But they also cultivate many kinds of bananas and vegetables, together with sugar-cane, sago, and tobacco.

They are a seafaring folk, who extend their voyages all along the coast for the purpose of trade, bartering mats, pearls, fish, coco-nuts, and other tree-fruits which grow on their islands for taro, bananas, sugar-cane, and sago, which grow on the mainland.

They are represented by men who disguise their bodies in dense masses of sago leaves and their faces in grotesque masks with long hooked noses.

Moreover they must abstain from the ordinary articles of diet and confine themselves to half-baked cakes of sago and other unpalatable viands.

From far and near the people have collected sago, coco-nuts, and other food.

Zagorianski, Zagozianski, Madame la Generale de Sago, Madame la Generale de Fourteen Consonants--oh these infernal Russian names!

But the General we have now nearly always makes sago puddings, and they are the watery kind, and you cannot pretend anything with them, not even islands, like you do with porridge.

There were extensive plantations of sago and date palms, orange and pomegranate and banana, and various kinds of groundnuts.

Pepper and some other spices flourish, and the soil with but a little cultivation produces rice wet and dry, tapioca, gambier, sugar-cane, coffee, yams, sweet potatoes, cocoa, sago, cotton, tea, cinchona, india rubber, and indigo.

They are chiefly sugar, pepper, tin, nutmegs, mace, sago, tapioca, rice, buffalo hides and horns, rattans, gutta, india rubber, gambier, gums, coffee, dye-stuffs, and tobacco, but the island itself, though its soil looks rich from its redness, only produces pepper and gambier.

As we drove out of the town the houses became fewer and the trees denser, with mosques here and there among them, and in a few minutes we were in the great dark forest of cocoa, betel, and sago palms, awfully solemn and oppressive in the hot stillness of the evening.

The influence of Holland has altogether vanished, as is fitting, for she cared only for nutmegs, sago, tapioca, tin and pepper.

It was composed of remarkably unbleached sago, which they make from the sago-palm, boiled down with sugar to nearly a jelly.