any of various plants of the genus Solanum, especially the black nightshade or the bittersweet.
any of various other related plants, as the deadly nightshade.

before 1000; Middle English; Old English nihtscada. See night, shade Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
nightshade (ˈnaɪtˌʃeɪd)
1.  any of various solanaceous plants, such as deadly nightshade, woody nightshade, and black nightshade
2.  See enchanter's nightshade
[Old English nihtscada, apparently night + shade, referring to the poisonous or soporific qualities of these plants]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

O.E. nihtscada, lit. "shade of night," perhaps in allusion to the poisonous berries. A common Gmc. compound, cf. Du. nachtschade, Ger. Nachtschatten.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The green is the same chemical that is in the poisonous evening nightshade.
Nightshade is an herb, but you wouldn't catch me ingesting it.
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