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witch hazel

[wich hey-zuh l] /ˈwɪtʃ ˌheɪ zəl/
a shrub, Hamamelis virginiana, of eastern North America, having toothed, egg-shaped leaves and small, yellow flowers.
a liquid extraction from the leaves or bark of this plant mixed with water and alcohol, used externally as a liniment for inflammations and bruises and as an astringent.
Origin of witch hazel
1535-45; witch, variant of wych (see wych elm) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for witch-hazel
Historical Examples
  • It was witch-hazel, curiously carved and with a bit of silver at the end of it.

    Ande Trembath Matthew Stanley Kemp
  • The witch-hazel you buy in the drugstores, is made out of the bark of this tree.

    Woodland Tales Ernest Seton-Thompson
  • As I was about to say, while I was fixing the stand, Smoky discovered a bee working on a witch-hazel bush close by the stand.

    Fifty Years a Hunter and Trapper Eldred Nathaniel Woodcock
  • You ought to see the witch-hazel bush in blossom late in November.

    The Fall of the Year Dallas Lore Sharp
  • Henry Thoreau's instinct is as sure towards the facts of nature as the witch-hazel towards treasure.

    Literary and Social Essays George William Curtis
  • October is not the month of flowers, even if it does claim the witch-hazel for its own.

    Wild Life Near Home Dallas Lore Sharp
  • He bathed the lump with cold water and put on some witch-hazel, which made it feel better.

    Randy of the River Horatio Alger Jr.
  • There is yet another curious exception which I will mention, namely, the witch-hazel.

    Riverby John Burroughs
  • How comes the witch-hazel to be the one exception, and to celebrate its floral nuptials on the funeral day of its foliage?

    A Year in the Fields John Burroughs
  • witch-hazel is the only shrub, and, as might have been expected, there is no climbing plant.

    A Rambler's lease Bradford Torrey
British Dictionary definitions for witch-hazel

witch hazel

any of several trees and shrubs of the genus Hamamelis, esp H. virginiana, of North America, having ornamental yellow flowers and medicinal properties: family Hamamelidaceae
an astringent medicinal solution containing an extract of the bark and leaves of H. virginiana, applied to treat bruises, inflammation, etc
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 witch-hazel

witch hazel


1540s, probably from Old English wice "wych-elm" (from wican "to bend") + hæsel, used for any bush of the pine family. The North American bush, from which a soothing lotion is made, was so called from 1670s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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witch-hazel in Medicine

witch hazel n.

  1. Any of several deciduous shrubs or small trees of the genus Hamamelis, especially H. virginiana, of eastern North America, having yellow flowers that bloom in late autumn or winter.

  2. An alcoholic solution containing an extract of the bark and leaves of this plant, applied externally as a mild astringent.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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