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lignum vitae

[lig-nuh m vahy-tee, vee-tahy] /ˈlɪg nəm ˈvaɪ ti, ˈvi taɪ/
noun
1.
either of two tropical American trees, Guaiacum officinale or G. sanctum, of the caltrop family, having very hard, heavy wood.
2.
the wood of such a tree, used for making pulley blocks, mallet heads, bearings, etc.
3.
any of several other trees yielding a similar hard wood.
Origin
1585-1595
1585-95; < New Latin, Late Latin, name of the tree, literally, wood of life
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for lignum-vitae

lignum vitae

/ˈlɪɡnəm ˈvaɪtɪ/
noun
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
See also guaiacum
Word Origin
New Latin, from Late Latin, literally: wood of life
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for lignum-vitae

lignum vitae

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

Learn more about lignum vitae with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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