• synonyms


  1. a European plant, Alkanna tinctoria, of the borage family.
  2. the root of this plant, yielding a red dye.
  3. the dye itself.
  4. any of several similar hairy plants, as the bugloss, Anchusa officinalis, or a puccoon of the genus Lithospermum.
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Origin of alkanet

1300–50; Middle English < Old Spanish alcaneta, equivalent to alcan(a) henna (plant) (< Medieval Latin alchanna < Arabic al the + hinnā̉ henna) + -eta diminutive suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for alkanet

Historical Examples of alkanet

  • Take out carefully the bags of alkanet, and lay them on a saucer.

    Miss Leslie's Lady's New Receipt-Book

    Eliza Leslie

  • Then remove the bag of alkanet, and perfume the oil with ottar of roses.

  • Put into a wide-mouthed bottle four ounces of the best olive oil, with one ounce of the small parts of alkanet root.

  • Wax tinged with alkanet root, and applied to the marble hot enough to melt it freely.

  • Alkanet is to be bought at the druggists, is very cheap, perfectly innoxious, and is now much used for colouring confectionary.

British Dictionary definitions for alkanet


  1. a European boraginaceous plant, Alkanna tinctoria, the roots of which yield a red dye
  2. Also called: anchusin, alkannin the dye obtained from this plant
  3. any of certain hairy blue-flowered Old World plants of the boraginaceous genus Anchusa (or Pentaglottis), such as A. sempervirens of EuropeSee also bugloss
  4. another name for puccoon (def. 1)
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Word Origin for alkanet

C14: from Spanish alcaneta, diminutive of alcana henna, from Medieval Latin alchanna, from Arabic al the + hinnā' henna
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

Word Origin and History for alkanet


"dye material from bugloss plant roots," early 14c., from Spanish alcaneta, diminutive of alcana, from Arabic al-hinna (see henna). As the name of the plant itself, from 1560s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper