- any of several tropical American plants belonging to the genus Manihot, of the spurge family, as M. esculenta (bitter cassava) and M. dulcis (sweet cassava), cultivated for their tuberous roots, which yield important food products.
- a nutritious starch from the roots, the source of tapioca.
- Also called: manioc any tropical euphorbiaceous plant of the genus Manihot, esp the widely cultivated American species M. esculenta (or utilissima) (bitter cassava) and M. dulcis (sweet cassava)
- a starch derived from the root of this plant: an important food in the tropics and a source of tapioca
1560s, from French cassave, Spanish casabe, or Portuguese cassave, from Taino (Haiti) caçabi. Earlier in English as cazabbi (1550s).