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[moh-lee] /ˈmoʊ li/
noun, plural molies. Classical Mythology
an herb given to Odysseus by Hermes to counteract the spells of Circe.
Origin of moly1
< Latin mōly < Greek môly


[mol-ee] /ˈmɒl i/
noun, Informal.
by shortening Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for moly
Historical Examples
  • Rhadamanthus gives Lucian a talisman of mallow as Hermes gave Odysseus the moly.

    Essays on the Greek Romances Elizabeth Hazelton Haight
  • moly seems to have been Allium moly, one of the onion or garlic family.

    The Romance of Plant Life G. F. Scott Elliot
  • Where, then, is a foreign word like moly, which might have reached Homer?

    Custom and Myth Andrew Lang
  • The Colonel did not mean hay; he meant asphodels and amaranth and moly.

    Hildegarde's Harvest Laura E. Richards
  • The mandrake, like the moly, the magical herb of the Odyssey, is ‘hard for men to dig.’

    Custom and Myth Andrew Lang
  • The etymologies given of ‘moly’ are almost as numerous as the etymologists.

    Custom and Myth Andrew Lang
  • The Scholiast adds that moly caused death to the person who dragged it out of the ground.

    Custom and Myth Andrew Lang
  • The Cappadocians called rue ‘moly’; what language, he asks, was spoken by the Cappadocians?

    Custom and Myth Andrew Lang
  • Every time my boys read "Odysseus" or the story of Ulysses with me we read or learn "moly."

  • The black root and white flower of moly are quite unlike the yellow flower and white fleshy root ascribed by Pliny to mandrake.

    Custom and Myth Andrew Lang
British Dictionary definitions for moly


noun (pl) -lies
(Greek myth) a magic herb given by Hermes to Odysseus to nullify the spells of Circe
a liliaceous plant, Allium moly, that is native to S Europe and has yellow flowers in a dense cluster
Word Origin
C16: from Latin mōly, from Greek mōlu
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 moly

1570s, fabulous magical herb with white flowers and black root, given by Hermes to Odysseus as protection against Circe's sorcery, of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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