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

  • noun The tropical American plant Nicotiana tabacum of the nightshade family, widely cultivated for its leaves, which are used primarily for smoking.
  • noun The leaves of this plant, dried and processed chiefly for use in cigarettes, cigars, or snuff or for smoking in pipes.
  • noun Any of various other plants of the genus Nicotiana.
  • noun Products made from these plants.
  • noun The habit of smoking tobacco.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The mouse-ear everlasting, Antennaria plantaginifolia.
  • noun a variety with a broad, short leaf grown in two counties in Indiana, used for making common cigars.
  • noun In Queensland, the name is also applied to the pituri, Duboisia Hopwoodii. See pituri.
  • noun In Tasmania, a shrub of the aster family, Cassinia spectabilis.
  • noun A commercial subdivision of the white Burley (see below) consisting of the darker, heavier leaves.
  • noun Sometimes a brand of tobacco (see return, n., 5). One such is known as bird's-eye returns.
  • noun A plant of the genus Nicotiana, particularly one of several species affording the narcotic product of the same name.
  • noun The leaves of the tobacco-plant prepared in various forms, to be smoked, chewed, or used as snuff (see Snuff).
  • noun Same as Indian tobacco. See above.

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

  • noun (Bot.) An American plant (Nicotiana Tabacum) of the Nightshade family, much used for smoking and chewing, and as snuff. As a medicine, it is narcotic, emetic, and cathartic. Tobacco has a strong, peculiar smell, and an acrid taste.
  • noun The leaves of the plant prepared for smoking, chewing, etc., by being dried, cured, and manufactured in various ways.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the common American skate.
  • noun (Chem.) See Nicotianine.
  • noun [R.] a tobacconist.
  • noun (Bot.) Same as Indian pipe, under Indian.
  • noun (Min.) a species of clay used in making tobacco pipes; -- called also cimolite.
  • noun (Zoöl.) See Pipemouth.
  • noun a small plug for pressing down the tobacco in a pipe as it is smoked.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the larva of a large hawk moth (Sphinx Carolina syn. Phlegethontius Carolina). It is dark green, with seven oblique white stripes bordered above with dark brown on each side of the body. It feeds upon the leaves of tobacco and tomato plants, and is often very injurious to the tobacco crop. See Illust. of Hawk moth.

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

  • noun uncountable Any plant of the genus Nicotiana.
  • noun uncountable Leaves of certain varieties of the plant cultivated and harvested to make cigarettes, cigars, snuff, for smoking in pipes or for chewing.
  • noun countable A variety of tobacco.

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

  • noun aromatic annual or perennial herbs and shrubs
  • noun leaves of the tobacco plant dried and prepared for smoking or ingestion


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

[Spanish tabaco, probably partly from a Taíno word recorded by a Spanish chronicler as tabago, tube for inhaling smoke (influenced by Old Spanish atabaca, altabaca, a Mediterranean plant (Inula viscosa) having leaves widely used in traditional medicine, from Arabic al-ṭubbāq : al-, the + ṭubāq, ṭubbāq, the plant I. viscosa).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

1588, from Spanish tabaco, in turn either from Arabic طباق (ṭabāq, ṭubāq, "a type of medicinal herb") (Spanish circa 1410, Arabic dating to 9th century), or from Taino, in sense “a roll of tobacco leaves” or “a pipe for smoking tobacco”. The term is thus either an Old World term (of Arabic origin) applied to a New World plant, or a New World word.


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  • Stephen Maturin on tobacco:'For me tobacco is the crown of the meal, the best opening to a day, a great enhancer of the quality of life. The crackle and yield of this little paper cylinder,' he said, holding it up, 'gives me a sensual pleasure whose deeper origins I blush to contemplate, while the slow combustion of the whole yields a gratification that I should not readily abandon even if it did me harm, which it does not. Far from it. On the contrary, tobacco purges the mind of its gross humors, sharpens the wits, renders the judicious smoker sprightly and vivacious. And soon I shall need all my sprightliness and vivacity.'

    - Stephen Maturin, in Patrick O'Brian's "The Ionian Mission"

    December 7, 2008

  • "The chili was only one of several new stimulants competing for attention. A craving for tobacco swept the world in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with coffee and tea following not far behind. Although sugar had been known in the Middle Ages (classed, incidentally, as a spice and used largely for medical purposes), its consumption began to increase dramatically from the sixteenth century on. Late in the century, sugar began to be mass-produced in Brazil and somewhat later in the West Indies, the apparent result a general sweetening of the Western palate, an upward curve that has continued, much to the cost of our teeth and the profit of our dentists, to this day. The carousing cavaliers of the great Dutch artists endured a dental hell. Sugar had something of the glamour and forbidden attraction formerly reserved to spices, and its air of dangerous newness probably did no harm to its attraction."

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 300

    December 6, 2016