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[hel-uh-bawr, -bohr] /ˈhɛl əˌbɔr, -ˌboʊr/
any of several plants of the genus Helleborus, of the buttercup family, having basal leaves and clusters of flowers, especially H. niger, the Christmas rose.
any of various plants of the genus Veratrum.
Compare false hellebore.
any of several poisonous or medicinal substances obtained from these plants.
Origin of hellebore
1555-65; < Greek helléboros; replacing earlier ellebor(e), Middle English el(l)bre, etc. < Latin elleborus < Greek Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hellebore
Historical Examples
  • But she does not go unprovided; she has hellebore at the bottom of the cup.

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • She needs six grains of hellebore, Monsieur; her brain is turned.

    Amphitryon Moliere
  • It has received the immedicable wound; no hellebore can cure it.

  • Some cause violent pain, as colchicum, hellebore, and aconite.

    The Swiss Family Robinson Johann David Wyss
  • He knew his own defect; and purposed going through a course of hellebore.

    The Caesars Thomas de Quincey
  • It is not certain whether they confounded our hellebore with our veratrum.

    Curiosities of Medical Experience

    J. G. (John Gideon) Millingen
  • Him, too, Simplex recognized by the hellebore he was munching.

    Pretty Michal Mr Jkai
  • hellebore was much used by the ancients as a cure for madness and melancholy.

  • To Destroy Cockroaches:—hellebore sprinkled on the floor at night.

    The Whitehouse Cookbook (1887) Mrs. F.L. Gillette
  • hellebore (White hellebore) is often used for the killing of currant-worms and other insects (see Currant).

British Dictionary definitions for hellebore


any plant of the Eurasian ranunculaceous genus Helleborus, esp H. niger (black hellebore), typically having showy flowers and poisonous parts See also Christmas rose
any of various liliaceous plants of the N temperate genus Veratrum, esp V. album, that have greenish flowers and yield alkaloids used in the treatment of heart disease
Word Origin
C14: from Greek helleboros, of uncertain origin
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 hellebore

late 14c., from Old French ellebore, from Latin elleborus, from Greek helleboros, perhaps meaning "plant eaten by fawns," from Greek ellos/hellos "fawn" + bora "food of beasts," from bibroskein "to eat," from PIE root *gwere- "to swallow." Among the ancients, the name given to various plants of both poisonous and medicinal qualities, reputed to cure madness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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