American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Any of various shrubs of the genus Syringa, especially S. vulgaris, widely cultivated for its clusters of fragrant purplish or white flowers.
- n. A pale to light or moderate purple.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A shrub of the genus Syringa. See Syringa. The common lilacs are S. vulgaris and S. Persica, with their varieties; they abound, especially the former, as ornamental plants, cultivated for their beauty and fragrance. S.vulgaris is the larger species, having heart-shaped leaves and large thyrsiform clusters of purple flowers—the ordinary purple lilac or Scotch lilac, or, with white flowers, the common white lilac. There is also a blue-flowered variety. S. Persica, the Persian lilac, is a smaller, slender shrub, with looser panicles and pale flowers, blooming later, and also having a white variety. Countess Josika's lilac, S. Josikæa, discovered by the Countess von Josika in Transylvania, is a tall shrub with elliptical-lanceolate wrinkled leaves and bluish-purple scentless flowers. The Himalayan lilac, S. Emodi, is large, with dense panicles, but is not preferred to the common lilac. The lilac was formerly called
pipe-treeor pipe-privets, and blue-pipe, on account of the large pith that could easily be bored out of the straight shoots to make pipe-stems. The common lilac has febrifugal properties. (See lilacine.) An oil is extracted from it for use in perfumery. The name lilac has also been given to various plants having some resemblance to the true lilac (see phrases below).
- n. The color of the common lilac-blossom; a pale-purple color. A color-disk composed of one half artificial ultramarine, one sixth Chinese vermilion, and one third white will give a lilac.
- Of the light-purple color of the flower of the common lilac.
- n. A fanciers' name for a peculiar bluish-gray color shown in the coats of some domesticated mice.
- n. A large shrub of the genus Syringa, bearing white, pale pink or purple flowers.
- n. Lilac flowers.
- n. colour A pale purple colour, the colour of some lilac flowers.
- adj. colour having a pale purple colour.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Bot.) A shrub of the genus Syringa. There are six species, natives of Europe and Asia. Syringa vulgaris, the common lilac, and Syringa Persica, the Persian lilac, are frequently cultivated for the fragrance and beauty of their purplish or white flowers. In the British colonies various other shrubs have this name.
- n. A light purplish color like that of the flower of the purplish lilac.
- adj. of a pale purple color
- n. any of various plants of the genus Syringa having large panicles of usually fragrant flowers
- From Arabic ليلك (līlak), from Persian نیلک (nilak), from نیل (nil, "dark blue"). (Wiktionary)
- Obsolete French, from Arabic līlak, from Middle Persian nīlak, from nīl, indigo, from Sanskrit nīlī, from nīla-, dark blue. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“Yet why, from inhaling air containing particles of lilac, should we be able to know that there is anything outside, much less that it is a flower and of a particular variety which we call lilac?”
“The early afternoon sun skipped across the thick gray braids flowing down her back; she wore a blouse rife with an ecstatic wonder of purple and lime green panels riddled with spinning wheels bathed in lilac, yellow stars, and flame-tinted diamonds.”
“I am sending you a virtual bouquet of mountain lilac from San Diego and a fresh bouquet of rosemary to remind you of Provence!”
“At the next table sat a Moslem woman wearing a silk overall striped in lilac and purple and dull blue.”
“Whether it is sultry, as in lilac, or cool, as in lady's smocks, this mingling of fierce red and saintly blue has an elfin quality.”
“If those other shades, the troubles of life, have become too dense and shouldered out the light, so that the sick imagination sees them as crouching beasts of prey, a pilgrimage to such a tranquil place in lilac time may help to set things right again.”
“Thorny, what is the matter with Ben?" asked Miss Celia, one day, when she and her brother were alone in the "green parlor," as they called the lilac-tree walk.”
“The lilac is nice, and I’d go for it in green as well.”
“As the younger stems mature and flower, the height of the lilac will be at a level where you can enjoy the fragrant flowers in spring.”
“For small spaces try a dwarf lilac, which is easily kept at a rounded 3 to 4 feet.”
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