- asparagus (n.)
- late 14c., aspergy; late Old English sparage, from Latin asparagus (in Medieval Latin often sparagus), from Greek asparagos, which is of uncertain origin; probably from PIE root *sp(h)er(e)g- "to spring up" (though perhaps not originally a Greek word).
In Middle English, asperages sometimes was regarded as a plural, with false singular aspergy. By 16c. the word had been anglicized as far as sperach, sperage. It was respelled by c. 1600 to conform with classical Latin, but in 17c. the folk-etymologized variant sparrowgrass took hold, persisting into 19c., during which time asparagus had "an air of stiffness and pedantry" [John Walker, "Critical Pronouncing Dictionary," 1791]. Known in Old English as eorðnafela.