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[lahy-luh k, -lahk, -lak] /ˈlaɪ lək, -lɑk, -læk/
any of various shrubs belonging to the genus Syringa, of the olive family, as S. vulgaris, having large clusters of fragrant purple or white flowers: the state flower of New Hampshire.
pale reddish purple.
having the color lilac.
Origin of lilac
1615-25; < Spanish < Arabic līlak < Persian, assimilated variant of nīlak bluish, equivalent to nīl blue, indigo (< Sanskrit nīla) + -ak suffix of appurtenance Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lilac
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His driver leaned down and peered into the shadow of the lilac bush.

    Fair Harbor Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • "The compliments of the lilac to you, my dear Miss," said he, bustling in.

  • He is green, with a throat and crown of changeable colors, lilac and red.

    The Children's Book of Birds Olive Thorne Miller
  • What shall we do to the lilac for denying us so long the sight of your beauty?

  • The two girls had just time to take one more deep breath, full of the fragrance from the lilac blossoms, before the bell rang.

    Clematis Bertha B. Cobb
British Dictionary definitions for lilac


Also called syringa. any of various Eurasian oleaceous shrubs or small trees of the genus Syringa, esp S. vulgaris (common lilac) which has large sprays of purple or white fragrant flowers
French lilac, another name for goat's-rue (sense 1)
  1. a light or moderate purple colour, sometimes with a bluish or reddish tinge
  2. (as adjective): a lilac carpet
Word Origin
C17: via French from Spanish, from Arabic līlak, changed from Persian nīlak bluish, from nīl blue
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for lilac

1620s, from French lilac "shrub of genus Syringa with mauve flowers," from Spanish lilac, from Arabic lilak, from Persian lilak, variant of nilak "bluish," from nil "indigo" (cf. Sanskrit nilah "dark blue"), of uncertain origin. As a color name, attested from 1791; as a scent, from 1895. As an adjective, "pale pinkish-purple," from 1801. Related: Lilaceous.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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