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[hee-lee-uh-trohp, heel-yuh- or, esp. British, hel-yuh-] /ˈhi li əˌtroʊp, ˈhil yə- or, esp. British, ˈhɛl yə-/
any hairy plant belonging to the genus Heliotropium, of the borage family, as H. arborescens, cultivated for its small, fragrant purple flowers.
any of various other plants, as the valerian or the winter heliotrope.
any plant that turns toward the sun.
a light tint of purple; reddish lavender.
Surveying. an arrangement of mirrors for reflecting sunlight from a distant point to an observation station.
Origin of heliotrope
1580-90; < Middle French héliotrope < Latin hēliotropium < Greek hēliotrópion (see helio-, -trope); compare Middle English elitropium, elitropius, Old English eliotropus < Medieval Latin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for heliotrope
Historical Examples
  • I can tell a geranium, when I see it, and I know a heliotrope by the smell.

  • And then under the table he espied a square of heliotrope paper.

    The Vagrant Duke George Gibbs
  • Sprinkles her handkerchief with heliotrope and wipes the blood from Schn's hand.

    Erdgeist (Earth-Spirit) Frank Wedekind
  • heliotrope is the name of the scent, my dear, but please do not allude to it again.

    Scottish Ghost Stories Elliott O'Donnell
  • Was this garden, which was all white, in any way connected with the sunbeams and heliotrope?

    Scottish Ghost Stories Elliott O'Donnell
  • It was racy and insolent with heliotrope; he hurled it to the floor.

    The Four Million

    O. Henry
  • The dreamy music drifted out; there was a scent of heliotrope.

    Five Tales John Galsworthy
  • Lady in a heliotrope dress with a lace collar, three flounces on the skirt?

    Tommy and Co. Jerome K. Jerome
  • When he went abroad to gather garlic he came home with heliotrope.

    Embarrassments Henry James
  • The blouse was white, with a little sprig of heliotrope and black.

    Sons and Lovers David Herbert Lawrence
British Dictionary definitions for heliotrope


/ˈhiːlɪəˌtrəʊp; ˈhɛljə-/
any boraginaceous plant of the genus Heliotropium, esp the South American H. arborescens, cultivated for its small fragrant purple flowers
garden heliotrope, a widely cultivated valerian, Valeriana officinalis, with clusters of small pink, purple, or white flowers
any of various plants that turn towards the sun
  1. a bluish-violet to purple colour
  2. (as adjective): a heliotrope dress
an instrument used in geodetic surveying employing the sun's rays reflected by a mirror as a signal for the sighting of stations over long distances
another name for bloodstone
Word Origin
C17: from Latin hēliotropium, from Greek hēliotropion, from hēlios sun + trepein to turn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for heliotrope

"plant which turns its flowers and leaves to the sun," 1620s, from French héliotrope (14c.) and directly from Latin heliotropium, from Greek heliotropion, from helios "sun" (see sol) + tropos "turn" (see trope). The word was applied c.1000-1600 in Latin form to sunflowers and marigolds. Related: Heliotropic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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