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8 Wintry Words to Defrost Your Vocabulary

myrtle

[mur-tl] /ˈmɜr tl/
noun
1.
any plant of the genus Myrtus, especially M. communis, a shrub of southern Europe having evergreen leaves, fragrant white flowers, and aromatic berries: anciently held sacred to Venus and used as an emblem of love.
Compare myrtle family.
2.
any of certain unrelated plants, as the periwinkle, Vinca minor, and California laurel, Umbellularia californica.
3.
Also called myrtlewood
[mur-tl-woo d] /ˈmɜr tlˌwʊd/ (Show IPA)
. the hard, golden-brown wood of the California laurel.
4.
Also called myrtle green. dark green with bluish tinge.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English mirtile < Medieval Latin myrtillus, equivalent to Latin myrt(us) (< Greek mýrtos) + New Latin -illus diminutive suffix
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for myrtlewood

myrtle

/ˈmɜːtəl/
noun
1.
any evergreen shrub or tree of the myrtaceous genus Myrtus, esp M. communis, a S European shrub with pink or white flowers and aromatic blue-black berries
2.
short for crape myrtle
3.
bog myrtle another name for sweet gale
4.
(US & Canadian) creeping myrtle, trailing myrtle, another name for periwinkle2 (sense 1)
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin myrtilla, from Latin myrtus, from Greek murtos
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for myrtlewood

myrtle

n.

c.1400, from Old French mirtile, from Medieval Latin myrtillus, diminutive of Latin myrtus "myrtle tree," from Greek myrtos "the myrtle, a sprig of myrtle," from same Semitic source as Greek myrrha (see myrrh).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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myrtlewood in the Bible

(Isa. 41:19; Neh. 8:15; Zech. 1:8), Hebrew hadas, known in the East by the name _as_, the Myrtus communis of the botanist. "Although no myrtles are now found on the mount (of Olives), excepting in the gardens, yet they still exist in many of the glens about Jerusalem, where we have often seen its dark shining leaves and white flowers. There are many near Bethlehem and about Hebron, especially near Dewir Dan, the ancient Debir. It also sheds its fragrance on the sides of Carmel and of Tabor, and fringes the clefts of the Leontes in its course through Galilee. We meet with it all through Central Palestine" (Tristram).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Article for myrtlewood

aromatic evergreen tree of the laurel family (Lauraceae). It occurs on the Pacific coast of North America from Oregon to California and grows about 15 to 25 metres (50 to 80 feet) tall. A handsome tree, it is often grown in gardens and along avenues. The alternate, short-stalked, smooth-edged leaves are oblong or oval and 7.5-12.5 centimetres (3-5 inches) long. When crushed, the leaves have a strong pungent aroma. The yellow-green flowers grow in dense clusters, and the egg-shaped, yellowish-green to purple fruit is about 2.5 cm long.

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