Definitions

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

  • n. Any of several species of iris having a fragrant rootstock, especially a variety of the hybrid Iris germanica.
  • n. The fragrant rootstock of the orris, used in perfumes and cosmetics. Also called orrisroot.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of several irises that have a fragrant root, especially Iris germanica (variety florentina).
  • n. The fragrant root of such an iris; the orris root.
  • n. A type of gold or silver lace.
  • n. A pattern in which gold lace or silver lace is worked, especially one in which the edges are ornamented with conical figures placed at equal distances, with spots between them.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A plant of the genus Iris (Iris Florentina); a kind of flower-de-luce. Its rootstock has an odor resembling that of violets.
  • n. A sort of gold or silver lace.
  • n. A peculiar pattern in which gold lace or silver lace is worked; especially, one in which the edges are ornamented with conical figures placed at equal distances, with spots between them.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A name given to laces of varied design in gold and silver.
  • n. Galloon and gimp used in upholstery.
  • n. A plant from which orris-root is obtained. Also orrice.

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

  • n. German iris having large white flowers with lavender-tinged falls and a fragrant rhizome
  • n. fragrant rootstock of various irises especially Florentine iris; used in perfumes and medicines

Etymologies

Probably alteration of Middle English yreos, from Medieval Latin, alteration of Latin īris; see iris.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Contracted from orfrays, or from arras. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Then the delectable, creamy blend of vanilla, heliotrope and orris, which is like a layer of dark-golden nougat ...

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • When I use violet flower note in my perfumes, it is a compound made if various oils that are rich in ionone - such as orris root, violet leaf absolute, boronia along with other floral oils or absolutes to round off the accord and give it a soft flowery impression.

    Archive 2006-03-01

  • But no orris root really fascinated and excited me as much as a particular batch I received from Eden Botanical: Beurre d’Iris aka orris butter -which really is the essential oil, but with a consistency of crumbly butter or powdery wax.

    Orchid, Pudding, Perfume: The Sahleb Story

  • In order to create a unique taste, Jared Brown went through a raft of historical recipes from the 1,000-drinks-book library at his home in Gloucestershire, and started experimenting with ingredients such as Italian orris root and Chinese cassia bark.

    An Adventurous Spirit

  • For his new fragrance, he explodes the notion of a shrinking violet with a lavish list of fancy floral notes like violet leaf, ultra-rare Tuscan orris root and a touch of benzoin and musk. $100, saks.com

    Naughty and Nice

  • It looks as though we may have lost the rhubarb plants completely to the winter, but the orris root irises are coming up, as well as the very tenacious lemon balm.

    Day in the Life of an Idiot

  • And it was then a matter of experimenting with the botanicals – Macedonian juniper berries, Bulgarian coriander seed, French angelica root, Spanish liquorice root, Italian orris root, Spanish ground almond, Chinese cassia bark, Madagascan cinnamon, and Spanish orange peel and lemon peel – and designing the still.

    Best UK Newcomer 2010: Sipsmith distillers

  • To prolong the potpourri's scent, use a fixative—a powdered root like orris or angelica, available at herbco.com .

    A New Whiff on Potpourri

  • (Years later I discovered orris was made from the root of irises.)

    Richard C. Morais: Culinary Tips From a Film Wallah

  • The most curious item; orris, a methanol-looking liquid that he told me was made from a West Bengal flower.

    Richard C. Morais: Culinary Tips From a Film Wallah

Comments

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  • It's also a gold or silver braid. :-)

    I didn't realize the words orris and iris were related.

    July 25, 2007

  • Short for "orris root", aka iris. I did not know this but apparently it's used to make gin, most famously Bombay Sapphire. At least, so says this unsourced Wikipedia article.

    July 25, 2007