Definitions

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

  • n. A poisonous Eurasian evergreen shrub (Nerium oleander) having fragrant white, rose, or purple flowers, whorled leaves, and long follicles containing numerous comose seeds. Also called rosebay.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Nerium oleander, a notoriously poisonous shrub in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae, but nonetheless widely grown as an ornamental.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A beautiful evergreen shrub (Nerium oleander) of the Dogbane family, having clusters of fragrant red, white, or pink flowers. It is a native of the East Indies, but the red variety has become common in the south of Europe. Called also rosebay, rose laurel, and South-sea rose.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Any plant of the genus Nerium, most often N. Oleander, the ordinary species, a shrub of indoor culture from the Levant, having leathery lance-shaped leaves and handsome deep rose-colored or white flowers.

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

  • n. an ornamental but poisonous flowering shrub having narrow evergreen leaves and clusters of fragrant white to pink or red flowers: native to East Indies but widely cultivated in warm regions

Etymologies

Medieval Latin, probably alteration (influenced by Latin olea, olive) of Late Latin lorandrum, rhododendron, alteration (probably influenced by Latin laurea, lōrea, laurel, because of its similar-shaped leaves) of Late Latin rodandrum, from Latin rhododendron; see rhododendron.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The olives and myrtles with Nerium oleander which is common, grow at the bottom of wadis or beside gueltas.

    Tassili N'Ajjer National Park, Algeria

  • Often cuttings of hard-wooded plants, such as oleander, are rooted in plain water, in wide-mouthed bottles hung in a warm place in the sun, the water being frequently renewed or kept fresh with a lump or so of charcoal.

    Gardening Indoors and Under Glass A Practical Guide to the Planting, Care and Propagation of House Plants, and to the Construction and Management of Hotbed, Coldframe and Small Greenhouse

  • But if they ate poisonous plants, such as oleander, they could become very sick.

    SanLuisObispo.com: 911

  • Plants such as Lily of the Valley, foxglove, oleander and azalea are very toxic, says Dr. Muller, who suggests labeling all houseplants and keeping a close eye on children when outdoors.

    Children Act Fast...So Do Poisons!

  • Amid the pink-hued beaches, the hidden coves, coral reefs and the heavy, perfumed scent of freesias and oleander, one also finds the sort of bustling restaurants, wine bars, corporate hotels and golf courses one would expect from an island that boasts the headquarters of companies such as Bacardi Ltd. and insurance brokers Hiscox Ltd.

    Losing Oneself in Bermuda

  • The new property was tucked into a curve of the road, the narrow front yard closed off by white oleander and a six-foot iron fence.

    Beyond the Curve

  • Everything except the bougainvillea and oleander was edible.

    Day of Honey

  • But at the back of the courtyard, hibiscus and oleander were blossoming, pink and white flowers looking out over a sea of gray.

    Day of Honey

  • Note—Louis has nearly completed the Orangerie—orange, oleander, pomegranate, and palm trees.

    Exit the Actress

  • When the neighbor on the other side mentioned she was thinking of pulling out an oleander, they gasped—but relaxed when she said she might replace it with a citrus tree.

    A New Addition

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Comments

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  • There's an International Oleander Society whose folklore page notes some ideas/stories about the origin of the word. The OED rather more staidly assocites it with 'post-classical Latin oleandrum, oliandrum, accusative (14th cent.) or Middle French, French oléandre (1314 in Old French), of uncertain origin.'

    October 22, 2008