from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A fern of the genus Adiantum, particularly A. Capillus-Veneris, a native of North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, China, and Japan, and A. pedatum, a native of North America from Canada southward, Hindustan, Japan, and Manchuria.
  • noun A stuff in use for garments in the fourteenth century.

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

  • noun (Bot.) Any of various small to large terrestrial ferns of the genus Adiantum having very slender graceful stalks and delicate palmately branched fronds, especially (Adiantum pedatum). It is common in the United States, and is sometimes used in medicine. The name is also applied to other species of the same genus, as to the Venus-hair.

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

  • noun Either of two species of fern with delicate, hair-like stalks, especially Adiantum capillus-veneris.
  • noun Designating various types of moss or flowering plants.
  • noun North America Either of two ericaceous plants, the creeping snowberry or the checkerberry.

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

  • noun any of various small to large terrestrial ferns of the genus Adiantum having delicate palmately branched fronds


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From maiden +‎ hair.



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  • The generic name, Adiantum, Greek for “unwetted,” refers to the fronds’ water repellency. The specific name, pedatum, is Latin for “like a (bird’s) foot” and refers to the splayed pinnae. The common name, maidenhair fern, appears to be an inexact translation of capillus-veneris, (literally, “Venus’s hair”), the epithet of a different species found in subtropical regions of both the Old and New Worlds. (Venus’s hair is a good choice for gardeners whose climate is too warm to grow A. pedatum.)

    The etymology appears to be a little more circuitous than Wiktionary would have it.

    August 15, 2015