Definitions

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

  • noun Any of several plants of the genus Heliotropium, especially H. arborescens, native to Peru and having small, highly fragrant purplish flowers.
  • noun The garden heliotrope.
  • noun Any of various plants that turn toward the sun.
  • noun A moderate, light, or brilliant violet to moderate or deep reddish purple.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A direct coal-tar color of the disazo type, derived from dianisidine. It dyes unmordanted cotton reddish violet in an alkaline salt bath.
  • noun In astronomy, an instrument for showing when the sun arrives at the solstitial points.
  • noun A mirror arranged with a telescope and sights so as to flash a reflection of the sun to a great distance. The instrument is used in geodetic triangulation to mark a station. See heliograph, 1.
  • noun A plant of the genus Heliotropium, of the natural order Boraginaceæ.
  • noun The bluish-purple or pinkish-lilac color of some flowers of the heliotrope.
  • noun A mineral, a subspecies of quartz, of a deep-green color, peculiarly pleasant to the eye.

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

  • noun (Anc. Astron.) An instrument or machine for showing when the sun arrived at the tropics and equinoctial line.
  • noun (Bot.) A plant of the genus Heliotropium; -- called also turnsole and girasole. Heliotropium Peruvianum is the commonly cultivated species with fragrant flowers.
  • noun (Geodesy & Signal Service) An instrument for making signals to an observer at a distance, by means of the sun's rays thrown from a mirror.
  • noun (Min.) See Bloodstone (a).
  • noun a grayish purple color.

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

  • noun botany A plant that turns so that it faces the sun.
  • noun botany Particularly, a purple-flowered plant of the species Heliotropium arborescens.
  • noun A light purple or violet colour.
  • noun The fragrance of heliotrope flowers.
  • noun mineralogy A bloodstone (a variety of quartz).
  • noun surveying An instrument, employed in triangulation, that uses a mirror to reflect sunlight toward another, very distant, surveyor.
  • adjective Light purple or violet.
  • adjective Keeping one’s face turned toward the sun.

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

  • noun green chalcedony with red spots that resemble blood

Etymologies

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

[Middle English elitrope (from Old English eliotropus) and French héliotrope, both from Latin hēliotropium, from Greek hēliotropion : hēlio-, helio- + tropos, turn; see trope.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek ἡλιοτρόπιον, from ἥλιος ("sun") + τρέπω ("turn").

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Examples

  • The small aromatic flower which we call heliotrope, with its violet hue and delightful perfume, more nearly answers the description.

    The Metamorphoses of Ovid Vol. I, Books I-VII

  • Deborah and I are very fond of it "-- here she sighed --" but for certain reasons -- reasons you would not understand -- we do not like to hear the word heliotrope mentioned.

    Scottish Ghost Stories

  • It was marked out by something called heliotrope cyanosis.

    American Chronicle

  • The purple-brown spots and smears, called heliotrope, on her eyelids.

    Cynical Dad

  • It was marked out by something called heliotrope cyanosis.

    American Chronicle

  • "I would create the smell of purity", he says, but instead of choosing predictable "pure" acquatic or ozonic notes, the perfumer opts for the ingredients that would evoke "the color white": "I would use powdery floral notes such as heliotrope, but it would also be spicy, and have iris, also violets and woods.

    Archive 2007-08-01

  • City, green giant heliotrope of hoop skirt, one helluva azimuth shadow, solar eclipse.

    Peter Graves Is A Mad, Mad March Blimp Captain

  • Local riverside walks have shown daisies growing, along with winter heliotrope often found near streams.

    Country diary: Yeo Valley, Somerset

  • I saw a picture in a book last fall of someone in California who had grown a heliotrope plant for several years and pruned it as a standard.

    2009 March « Sugar Creek Gardens’ Blog

  • I saw a picture in a book last fall of someone in California who had grown a heliotrope plant for several years and pruned it as a standard.

    Can you smell that heliotrope? « Sugar Creek Gardens’ Blog

Comments

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  • In the eighteenth century, a common garden herb or shrub with small, clustered, purple flowers, widely cultivated for its fragrance.

    February 6, 2007

  • and a picture

    October 15, 2008

  • Usage/historical note in comment on turnsole.

    January 8, 2017