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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for heliotrope
Historical Examples
  • For more intimate letters ladies sometimes use a pale blue, delicate pearl-gray, light lavender or heliotrope, or a Colonial buff.

    The Etiquette of To-day Edith B. Ordway
  • It was racy and insolent with heliotrope; he hurled it to the floor.

    The Four Million

    O. Henry
  • I don't mind the purchase you made for your friends, but the purchase of heliotrope is really too cynical.

  • When he went abroad to gather garlic he came home with heliotrope.

    Embarrassments Henry James
  • She buried her face in the heliotrope, whose perfume seemed the memory of his visit; then, going to the piano, began to play.

    Beyond John Galsworthy
  • heliotrope is the name of the scent, my dear, but please do not allude to it again.

    Scottish Ghost Stories Elliott O'Donnell
  • He wiped his eyes with the back of his heliotrope sleeve and finished what he had to say.

    Leerie Ruth Sawyer
  • The blouse was white, with a little sprig of heliotrope and black.

    Sons and Lovers David Herbert Lawrence
  • The dreamy music drifted out; there was a scent of heliotrope.

    Five Tales John Galsworthy
  • I would carry your banner of white and green and heliotrope.

    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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