Definitions

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

  • noun Any of various plants that move or are believed to move in response to the sun, especially the Mediterranean species Chrozophora tinctoria.

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

  • noun A plant of the genus Heliotropium; heliotrope; -- so named because its flowers are supposed to turn toward the sun.
  • noun The sunflower.
  • noun A kind of spurge (Euphorbia Helioscopia).
  • noun The euphorbiaceous plant Chrozophora tinctoria.
  • noun obsolete Litmus.
  • noun A purple dye obtained from the plant turnsole. See def. 1 (d).

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

  • noun The heliotrope; so named because its flowers are supposed to turn toward the sun.
  • noun The sunflower.
  • noun A kind of spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia).
  • noun The euphorbiaceous plant Chrozophora tinctoria.
  • noun A purple dye obtained from Chrozophora tinctoria.
  • noun chemistry, obsolete litmus

Etymologies

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

[Middle English turnesole, dye made from C. tinctoria, from Old French tournesol, from Old Italian tornasole : tornare, to turn (from Latin tornāre; see turn) + sole, sun (from Latin sōl; see sāwel- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French tournesol

Examples

Comments

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  • Sp. girasol, sunflower.

    November 29, 2011

  • What a lovely word!

    November 29, 2011

  • "Boiled blood was used to color foods black, and a sandalwood-like bark known as sanders or mulberries or red alkanet were employed to turn them red or purple. Wheat starch, egg whites or crushed almonds were used for white; mint, spinach and parsley for green, and for blue the turnsole, or heliotrope, was mashed. Most desirable of all, egg yolks, dandelion petals or musty saffron were used to endore pie crusts and pottages. Saffron was a costly statement, with more than 50,000 hand-harvested crocus flowers needed for each pound of dried stamens. The fields around Saffron Walden in Essex must have been a mirage of smiling colour when in bloom, delighting thousands who could never hope to taste the kind of cooking in which they were used."

    --Kate Colquhoun, Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking (NY: Bloomsbury, 2007), 58

    January 8, 2017