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[spurj] /spɜrdʒ/
any of numerous plants of the genus Euphorbia, having a milky juice and flowers with no petals or sepals.
Compare spurge family.
Origin of spurge
1350-1400; Middle English < Middle French espurge, noun derivative of espurgier to cleanse < Latin expurgāre. See ex-1, purge Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spurge
Historical Examples
  • Well; do not open my eyes with pincers, nor compose for them a collyrium of spurge.

    Imaginary Conversations and Poems Walter Savage Landor
  • There are caterpillars which eat the leaves of the Euphorbia, or spurge, for instance.

    The Insect World Louis Figuier
  • This caterpillar is almost always found on the Cyprus-leafed spurge.

    The Insect World Louis Figuier
  • Thus the spurge, that is noxious to man, is a most wholesome nourishment to the Caterpillar.

  • Bitter as spurge was that old story of hers now, and bitterer still the only moral lesson it now appeared to her to have.

    The Story of Louie Oliver Onions
  • The flowers begin to greet you, the heliotrope, solanaceas, spurge and cacti all around.

    With the Battle Fleet Franklin Matthews
  • The spurge is poisonous to man; but the caterpillar finds it a wholesome nourishment.

  • Cleg pushed his way through the thickly matted copses of spurge laurel and wet-shot alder.

    Cleg Kelly, Arab of the City

    S. R. (Samuel Rutherford) Crockett
  • Such is the case with the natural order Euphorbiaceæ, or spurge family, to which the tallow-tree of China belongs.

  • The spurge plants were long ago covered up by drifting sand, and the caterpillars were all destroyed.

    Devonshire Francis A. Knight
British Dictionary definitions for spurge


any of various euphorbiaceous plants of the genus Euphorbia that have milky sap and small flowers typically surrounded by conspicuous bracts. Some species have purgative properties
Word Origin
C14: from Old French espurge, from espurgier to purge, from Latin expurgāre to cleanse, from ex-1 + purgāre to purge
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 spurge

plant species, late 14c., from Old French espurge, from espurgier "to purge," from Latin expurgare, from ex- "out" (see ex-) + purgare "to purge" (see purge). So called from the plant's purgative properties.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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