any plant of the genus Linum, especially L. usitatissimum, a slender, erect, annual plant having narrow, lance-shaped leaves and blue flowers, cultivated for its fiber and seeds.
the fiber of this plant, manufactured into linen yarn for thread or woven fabrics.
any of various plants resembling flax.

before 900; Middle English; Old English fleax; cognate with Dutch, Low German vlas, German Flachs

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World English Dictionary
flax (flæks)
1.  any herbaceous plant or shrub of the genus Linum, esp L. usitatissimum, which has blue flowers and is cultivated for its seeds (flaxseed) and for the fibres of its stems: family Linaceae
2.  the fibre of this plant, made into thread and woven into linen fabrics
3.  any of various similar plants
4.  (NZ) Also called: harakeke a swamp plant producing a fibre that is used by Māoris for decorative work, baskets, etc
[Old English fleax; related to Old Frisian flax, Old High German flahs flax, Greek plekein to plait]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

O.E. fleax "cloth made with flax, linen," from P.Gmc. *flakhsan (cf. O.Fris. flax, Ger. Flachs), probably from P.Gmc. base *fleh-, corresponding to PIE *plek- "to weave, plait" see ply (v.)). But some connect it with PIE *plak- (see flay) from the notion of "stripping" fiber to prepare it.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Flax definition

(Heb. pishtah, i.e., "peeled", in allusion to the fact that the stalks of flax when dried were first split or peeled before being steeped in water for the purpose of destroying the pulp). This plant was cultivated from earliest times. The flax of Egypt was destroyed by the plague of hail when it "was bolled", i.e., was forming pods for seed (Ex. 9:31). It was extensively cultivated both in Egypt and Palestine. Reference is made in Josh. 2:6 to the custom of drying flax-stalks by exposing them to the sun on the flat roofs of houses. It was much used in forming articles of clothing such as girdles, also cords and bands (Lev. 13:48, 52, 59; Deut. 22:11). (See LINEN.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Britannica


(genus Linum usitatissimum), plant of the family Linaceae and its fibre, which is second in importance among the bast fibre (q.v.) group. The flax plant is cultivated both for its fibre, from which linen yarn and fabric are made, and for its seed, called linseed, from which linseed oil is obtained.

Learn more about flax with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
It is probably a piece of linen, woven from the fibers of the flax plant.
The inside of the driver's seat was made from soy-based foam, while the cover consists of a fabric made from flax.
The flavor of raspberries deepens when they are baked in a crumble topped with flax and oatmeal.
Flax oil also fits the bill and uses no fish at all.
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