1. any of various plants of the mustard family, especially the watercress, having pungent-tasting leaves often used for salad and as a garnish.
  2. any of various similar plants.

Origin of cress

before 900; Middle English cresse, Old English cress(a), cresse; cognate with Dutch kers, German Kresse
Related formscress·y, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cress

Historical Examples of cress

British Dictionary definitions for cress


  1. any of various plants of the genera Lepidium, Cardamine, Arabis, etc, having pungent-tasting leaves often used in salads and as a garnish: family Brassicaceae (crucifers)See also watercress, garden cress

Word Origin for cress

Old English cressa; related to Old High German cresso cress, kresan to crawl
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 cress

Old English cresse, originally cærse, from Proto-Germanic *krasjon- (cf. Middle Low German kerse, karse; Middle Dutch kersse; Old High German kresso, German Kresse), from PIE root *gras- "to devour" (see gastric). It underwent a metathesis similar to that of grass. French cresson, Italian crescione are Germanic loan-words.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper