from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of several evergreen shrubs or trees of the genus Myrtus, especially M. communis, an aromatic shrub native to the Mediterranean region, having white flowers and blue-black berries and widely cultivated as a hedge plant.
  • noun Any of several other evergreen shrubs or trees, such as the wax myrtle.
  • noun The periwinkle Vinca minor.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The sweet-gale, Myrica Gale.
  • noun A plant of the genus Myrtus, primarily M. communis, the classic and favorite common myrtle.
  • noun A name of various similar plants of other genera of the myrtle family (Myrtaceæ), and of other families, many unrelated.
  • noun A broad-leafed variety of the true myrtle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Bot.) A species of the genus Myrtus, especially Myrtus communis. The common myrtle has a shrubby, upright stem, eight or ten feet high. Its branches form a close, full head, thickly covered with ovate or lanceolate evergreen leaves. It has solitary axillary white or rosy flowers, followed by black several-seeded berries. The ancients considered it sacred to Venus. The flowers, leaves, and berries are used variously in perfumery and as a condiment, and the beautifully mottled wood is used in turning.
  • noun the sweet gale.
  • noun See under Crape.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a North American wood warbler (Dendroica coronata); -- called also myrtle bird, yellow-rumped warbler, and yellow-crowned warbler.
  • noun (Bot.) See Bayberry tallow, under Bayberry.
  • noun a low, branching evergreen shrub (Leiophyllum buxifolium), growing in New Jersey and southward.
  • noun (Myrica cerifera). See Bayberry.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An evergreen shrub or small tree of the genus Myrtus, native to southern Europe and north Africa.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun widely cultivated as a groundcover for its dark green shiny leaves and usually blue-violet flowers
  • noun any evergreen shrub or tree of the genus Myrtus


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English mirtille, from Old French, from Medieval Latin myrtillus, diminutive of Latin myrtus, from Greek murtos.]


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word myrtle.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • This was suggested by skipvia on logos' profile, but it really belongs on this list too.

    August 21, 2008

  • I like this part from the Century: "In ancient times it was sacred to Venus, and its leaves formed wreaths for bloodless victors; it was also a symbol of civil authority. It is used in modern times for bridal wreaths. The plant is an unimportant astringent. Its aromatic berries have been used to flavor wine and in cookery. Its flowers, as also its leaves, afford perfumes, the latter used in sachets, etc. Its hard mottled wood is prized in turnery."

    August 15, 2012

  • If someone called me an "unimportant astringent", I would be sad. And also confused.

    August 18, 2012

  • Usage/historical note on wood sorrel.

    January 6, 2017