lilac


lilac
/luy"leuhk, -lahk, -lak/, n.
1. any of various shrubs belonging to the genus Syringa, of the olive family, as S. vulgaris, having large clusters of fragrant purple or white flowers: the state flower of New Hampshire.
2. pale reddish purple.
adj.
3. having the color lilac.
[1615-25; < Sp < Ar lilak < Pers, assimilated var. of NILAK bluish, equiv. to nil blue, indigo ( < Skt nila) + -ak suffix of appurtenance]

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Any of about 30 species of fragrant northern spring-flowering garden shrubs and small trees that make up the genus Syringa in the olive family, native to eastern Europe and temperate Asia.

Lilacs have deep green leaves and large, oval clusters of compound blooms coloured deep purple, lavender, blue, red, pink, white, or creamy yellow; they are often highly fragrant. The common lilac (S. vulgaris) reaches 20 ft (6 m) in height and produces many suckers (shoots from the stem or root). The name syringa was formerly used for the mock orange of the saxifrage family, and the butterfly bush (see buddleia) is commonly called "summer lilac."

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▪ plant genus
 any of about 25 species of fragrant and beautiful northern spring-flowering garden shrubs and small trees constituting the genus Syringa of the family Oleaceae. Lilacs are native to eastern Europe and temperate Asia. Their deep green leaves enhance the attractiveness of the large, oval clusters of colourful blooms. The fruit is a leathery capsule.

      The common lilac (S. vulgaris), from southeastern Europe, is widely grown in temperate areas of the world. There are several hundred named varieties with single or double flowers in deep purple, lavender, blue, red, pink, white, and pale, creamy yellow. The common lilac reaches approximately 6 metres (20 feet) and produces many suckers (shoots from the stem or root). It may be grown as a shrub or hedge or, by clearing away the suckers, as a small tree.

      The weaker-stemmed Persian lilac (S. persica), ranging from Iran to China, droops over, reaching about 2 metres in height. Its flowers usually are pale lavender, but there are darker and even white varieties.

      Other decorative species are the dwarf Korean lilac (S. velutina), about 3 metres tall, with lavender-pink flowers; the 4-metre-tall nodding lilac (S. reflexa) of China, with pinkish flowers; the Hungarian lilac (S. josikaèa), about 3 metres tall, with scentless bluish purple flowers; and the daphne lilac (S. microphylla), about 1.5 metres tall, from China, with small leaves, deep red buds, and pale pink flowers. The Chinese lilac, or Rouen lilac (S. chinensis), is a thickly branched hybrid, a cross of the Persian and common lilacs.

      The name syringa was formerly used for the mock orange of the family Saxifragaceae. Species of the genus Ceanothus of the family Rhamnaceae are known as summer lilacs, a term also applied to the butterfly bush of the family Buddlejaceae.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lilac — Li lac (l[imac] lak), n. [Also {lilach}.] [Sp. lilac, lila, Ar. l[=i]lak, fr. Per. l[=i]laj, l[=i]lanj, l[=i]lang, n[=i]laj, n[=i]l, the indigo plant, or from the kindred l[=i]lak bluish, the flowers being named from the color. Cf. {Anil}.] 1.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lilac — (del fr. «lilac») f. Lila o lilo. * * * lilac. (Del fr. lilac, este del ár. līlak, este del persa lila[n]ǧ o lilang, y este del sánscr. nîla, azul oscuro). f. lila (ǁ arbusto oleáceo) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • lilac — (n.) 1620s, from Fr. lilac shrub of genus Syringa with mauve flowers, from Sp. lilac, from Arabic lilak, from Pers. lilak, variant of nilak bluish, from nil indigo (Cf. Skt. nilah dark blue ), of uncertain origin. As a color name, attested from… …   Etymology dictionary

  • lilac — (Del fr. lilac, este del ár. līlak, este del persa lila[n]ǧ o lilang, y este del sánscr. nîla, azul oscuro). f. lila (ǁ arbusto oleáceo) …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Lilac — Lilac, der türkische Hollunder (Syringa); daher Lilacin, von Meillet aus den Blättern u. Blattknospen der Syringa vulgaris dargestellter Stoff, krystallisirt in Büscheln seiner Nadeln, od. in vierseitigen Prismen, löst sich in Essigsäure u.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Lilac — f English: a modern adoption of the vocabulary word denoting the shrub with large sprays of heavily scented purple or white flowers. The word is from French, which derived it via Spanish from Arabic līlak, from Persian nīlak bluish, a derivative… …   First names dictionary

  • lilac — ► NOUN 1) a shrub or small tree with fragrant violet, pink, or white blossom. 2) a pale pinkish violet colour. ORIGIN from Persian, bluish …   English terms dictionary

  • lilac — [lī′lək, lī′läk΄, lī′lak΄] n. [Fr (now lilas) < Ar līlak < Pers līlak, nīlak, bluish < nīl, indigo < Sans nila, dark blue, indigo] 1. any of a genus (Syringa) of hardy shrubs or trees of the olive family, with large clusters of tiny,… …   English World dictionary

  • lilac — [[t]la͟ɪlək[/t]] lilacs (lilac can also be used as the plural form.) 1) N VAR A lilac or a lilac tree is a small tree which has sweet smelling purple, pink, or white flowers in large, cone shaped groups. Lilacs grew against the side wall. ...a… …   English dictionary

  • lilac — [17] Like the river Nile, the lilac gets its name from its colour. The Sanskrit word for ‘dark blue’ was nīla. This passed into Persian as nīl, from which was derived nīlak ‘bluish’. This developed a variant līlak, which English acquired via… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins