gentian

gentian

[jen-shuhn]
noun
1.
any of several plants of the genera Gentiana, Gentianella, and Gentianopsis, having usually blue, or sometimes yellow, white, or red, flowers, as the fringed gentian of North America, or Gentiana lutea, of Europe. Compare gentian family.
2.
any of various plants resembling the gentian.
3.
the root of G. lutea, or a preparation of it, used as a tonic.

Origin:
1350–1400; Middle English gencian < Latin gentiāna; said to be named after Gentius, an Illyrian king

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
gentian (ˈdʒɛnʃən)
 
n
1.  any gentianaceous plant of the genera Gentiana or Gentianella, having blue, yellow, white, or red showy flowers
2.  the bitter-tasting dried rhizome and roots of Gentiana lutea (European or yellow gentian), which can be used as a tonic
3.  any of several similar plants, such as the horse gentian
 
[C14: from Latin gentiāna; perhaps named after Gentius, a second-century bc Illyrian king, reputedly the first to use it medicinally]

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

gentian
O.E., from L. gentiana, said by Pliny to be named for Gentius, king of ancient Illyria who discovered its properties. This is likely a folk-etymology, but the word may be Illyrian, since the suffix -an frequently occurs in Illyrian words.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

gentian

(genus Gentiana), any of about 400 species of annual or perennial (rarely biennial) flowering plants of the family Gentianaceae distributed worldwide in temperate and alpine regions, especially in Europe and Asia, North and South America, and New Zealand. They are especially a notable feature of mountain regions, where the moisture-loving plants have access to underground water in summer and snow cover in winter. Gentian flowers are typically blue (hence "gentian blue") or purplish blue but may be purple, violet, mauve, yellow, white, or even red; the four or five petals are usually united into a trumpet, funnel, or bell shape. The flowers have been used in the making of dyes, especially Gentiana pneumonanthe, a source of blue dye. The tough fibrous roots were once used herbally for putative alimentary cures, and the name gentian derives from Gentius, king of ancient Illyria and alleged discoverer of the plant's medicinal value. Gentiana lutea, the yellow gentian, is found in Europe and western Asia and is the source of a flavouring in liqueurs.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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