lignum vitae

lignum vitae

[lig-nuhm vahy-tee, vee-tahy]
either of two tropical American trees, Guaiacum officinale or G. sanctum, of the caltrop family, having very hard, heavy wood.
the wood of such a tree, used for making pulley blocks, mallet heads, bearings, etc.
any of several other trees yielding a similar hard wood.

1585–95; < Neo-Latin, Late Latin, name of the tree, literally, wood of life Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
lignum vitae (ˈlɪɡnəm ˈvaɪtɪ)
1.  either of two zygophyllaceous tropical American trees, Guaiacum officinale or G. sanctum, having blue or purple flowers
2.  the heavy resinous wood of either of these trees, which is used in machine bearings, casters, etc: formerly thought to have medicinal properties
[New Latin, from Late Latin, literally: wood of life]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Encyclopedia Britannica

lignum vitae

any of several trees of the genus Guaiacum, of the family Zygophyllaceae, particularly G. officinale, native to the New World tropics.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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