any terrestrial or epiphytic plant of the family Orchidaceae, of temperate and tropical regions, having usually showy flowers. Compare orchid family.
the flower of any of these plants.
a bluish to reddish purple.

1835–45; < Neo-Latin Orchideae (later Orchidaceae) family name, equivalent to Latin orch(is) a plant (see orchis) + -ideae, irregular suffix (cf. -idae); see -id2

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variant of orchido- before a vowel: orchidology.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
orchid (ˈɔːkɪd)
bee orchid burnt-tip orchid fly orchid frog orchid lady orchid lizard orchid man orchid monkey orchid purple-fringed orchid pyramidal orchid scented orchid spider orchid See spotted orchid any terrestrial or epiphytic plant of the family Orchidaceae, often having flowers of unusual shapes and beautiful colours, specialized for pollination by certain insects
[C19: from New Latin Orchideae; see orchis]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1845, introduced by John Lindley in "School Botanty," from Mod.L. Orchideæ (Linnaeus), the plant's family name, from L. orchis, a kind of orchid, from Gk. orkhis (gen. orkheos) "orchid," lit. "testicle," from PIE *orghi-, the standard root for "testicle" (cf. Avestan erezi "testicles," Arm. orjik,
M.Ir. uirgge, Ir. uirge "testicle," Lith. erzilas "stallion"). The plant so called because of the shape of its root. Earlier in Eng. in L. form, orchis (1562). Marred by extraneous -d- in attempt to extract the Latin stem.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


any of nearly 1,000 genera and more than 22,000 species of attractively flowered plants distributed throughout the world, especially in wet tropics. Orchidaceae is a member of Asparagales, an order of monocotyledonous flowering plants that also includes the asparagus and iris families. The word orchid is derived from the Greek word (orchis) for testicle because of the shape of the root tubers in some species of the genus Orchis. These nonwoody perennial plants are generally terrestrial or epiphytic herbs (i.e., growing on other plants rather than rooted in soil). Those attached to other plants often are vinelike and have a spongy root covering called the velamen that absorbs water from the surrounding air. Most species manufacture their own food, but some live on dead organic material (saprophytic) or are helped to obtain nourishment by a fungus living in their roots

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
In a shipment of many similar-looking plants, it was rare for each permit to match each orchid precisely.
Vanilla comes from the only fruit-bearing orchid on the planet.
He's sort of a hothouse orchid- he needs the write environment to play well.
Every orchid or rose or lizard or snake is the work of a dedicated and skilled
Images for orchid
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