Also found in: Wikipedia.
n. pl. shumai
1. A steamed or fried dumpling that contains a pastelike filling of minced ingredients, as pork, shrimp, ginger, and onion, usually seasoned with soy sauce and often only partially wrapped, exposing part of the filling.
2. A dish consisting of a number of these dumplings.
[Japanese shūmai, from Cantonese siu1 maai6, Cantonese reading (with siu1, to burn, roast, and maai2, variant in composition of maai6, to sell) of Mandarin shāomài (as written with the characters shāo, to burn, roast, and mài, to sell, since shumai are frequently sold in small shops and as street food), rewriting of earlier shāomài : shāo, a little, variant of shào (from Middle Chinese ʂaı̷w`, from Old Chinese *sr(i)âuh) + mài, wheat (perhaps with reference to the thin wheaten wrapper, from Middle Chinese ma⋮jk, from Old Chinese *mrək, perhaps of Indo-European origin; see melə- in Indo-European roots).]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.