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[awr-kid] /ˈɔr kɪd/
any terrestrial or epiphytic plant of the family Orchidaceae, of temperate and tropical regions, having usually showy flowers.
Compare orchid family.
the flower of any of these plants.
a bluish to reddish purple.
Origin of orchid
1835-45; < New Latin Orchideae (later Orchidaceae) family name, equivalent to Latin orch(is) a plant (see orchis) + -ideae, irregular suffix (cf. -idae); see -id2


variant of orchido- before a vowel:
orchidology. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for orchid
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Treated in this way, orchid flowers will last for weeks instead of days.

    Orchids James O'Brien
  • He would also carry out his dream by making the orchid a gift to Lady Coke.

  • For, as the orchid Hunter pointed out, in order to save life, one must sustain it.

    The White Mice Richard Harding Davis
  • How high his hopes had been when he and the Dutchman had carried off the orchid!

  • But Harriet Field had never had an orchid before from a man.

    Harriet and the Piper Kathleen Norris
  • The parcel of orchid pods, which you have so kindly sent me, has followed me.

  • Over her shoulder the last dropping redness of the sun vanished and plunged the room into orchid twilight.

    The Door Through Space Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • So when the orchid Hunter spoke he showed a touch of temper.

    The White Mice Richard Harding Davis
British Dictionary definitions for orchid


any terrestrial or epiphytic plant of the family Orchidaceae, often having flowers of unusual shapes and beautiful colours, specialized for pollination by certain insects See bee orchid, burnt-tip orchid, fly orchid, frog orchid, lady orchid, lizard orchid, man orchid, monkey orchid, purple-fringed orchid, pyramidal orchid, scented orchid, spider orchid, spotted orchid
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin Orchideae; see orchis
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 orchid

1845, introduced by John Lindley in "School Botanty," from Modern Latin Orchideæ (Linnaeus), the plant's family name, from Latin orchis, a kind of orchid, from Greek orkhis (genitive orkheos) "orchid," literally "testicle," from PIE *orghi-, the standard root for "testicle" (cf. Avestan erezi "testicles," Armenian orjik, Middle Irish uirgge, Irish uirge "testicle," Lithuanian erzilas "stallion"). The plant so called because of the shape of its root. Earlier in English in Latin form, orchis (1560s), and in Middle English it was ballockwort (c.1300; see ballocks). Marred by extraneous -d- in an attempt to extract the Latin stem.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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