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spikenard

[spahyk-nerd, -nahrd] /ˈspaɪk nərd, -nɑrd/
noun
1.
an aromatic, Indian plant, Nardostachys jatamansi, of the valerian family, believed to be the nard of the ancients.
2.
an aromatic substance used by the ancients, supposed to be obtained from this plant.
3.
any of various other plants, especially an American plant, Aralia racemosa, of the ginseng family, having an aromatic root.
Origin
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English < Medieval Latin spīca nardī. See spike2, nard
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for spikenard

spikenard

/ˈspaɪknɑːd; ˈspaɪkəˌnɑːd/
noun
1.
an aromatic Indian valerianaceous plant, Nardostachys jatamans, having rose-purple flowers
2.
an aromatic ointment obtained from this plant
3.
any of various similar or related plants
4.
a North American araliaceous plant, Aralia racemosa, having small green flowers and an aromatic root
Also called (for senses 1, 2) nard
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin spīca nardī; see spike², nard
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 spikenard
n.

mid-14c., "aromatic substance from an Indian plant," from Medieval Latin spica nardi (see spike (n.2)), rendering Greek nardou stakhys; the second element probably ultimately from Sanskrit nalada-, the name of the plant.

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

(Heb. nerd), a much-valued perfume (Cant. 1:12; 4:13, 14). It was "very precious", i.e., very costly (Mark 14:3; John 12:3,5). It is the root of an Indian plant, the Nardostachys jatamansi, of the family of Valeriance, growing on the Himalaya mountains. It is distinguished by its having many hairy spikes shooting out from one root. It is called by the Arabs sunbul Hindi, "the Indian spike." In the New Testament this word is the rendering of the Greek nardos pistike. The margin of the Revised Version in these passages has "pistic nard," pistic being perhaps a local name. Some take it to mean genuine, and others liquid. The most probable opinion is that the word pistike designates the nard as genuine or faithfully prepared.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Article for spikenard

(Aralia racemosa), North American member of the ginseng family (Araliaceae) of the order Cornales, characterized by large spicy-smelling roots. It grows 3.5 m (11 feet) tall and has leaves divided into three heart-shaped parts. The flowers are grouped into numerous clusters at the end of the central stem

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