• synonyms


  1. any of several grasses of the genus Lolium, having simple stems, flat leaves, and terminal spikes.
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Origin of darnel

1275–1325; Middle English; compare French (Walloon) darnelle, probably < Germanic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for darnel

Historical Examples of darnel

  • Do not harvest the weeds and the darnel, nor reject the barley because it is not wheat.

    The Minute Man of the Frontier

    W. G. Puddefoot

  • A story of Budha answers to that of Darnel in the lions' den.

  • The Tares sown amongst the wheat were probably the seed of the Darnel.

    The Romance of Plant Life

    G. F. Scott Elliot

  • Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow In our sustaining corn.

  • It was thought Mr. Darnel came on purpose to show his resentment.

British Dictionary definitions for darnel


  1. any of several grasses of the genus Lolium, esp L. temulentum, that grow as weeds in grain fields in Europe and Asia
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Word Origin for darnel

C14: probably related to French (Walloon dialect) darnelle, of obscure 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

Word Origin and History for darnel


weed growing in grainfields, c.1300, from northern dialectal French darnelle; according to one theory, the the second element is Old French neelle (Modern French nielle) "cockle," from Vulgar Latin nigella "black-seeded," from fem. of Latin nigellus "blackish."

But perhaps rather the word is related to Middle Dutch verdaernt, verdarnt "stunned, dumbfounded, angry," Walloon darne, derne "stunned, dazed, drunk," the plant so called from its well-known inebriating property. Long noted for its "poisonous" properties (actually caused by fungus growing on the plant); The French word for it is ivraie, from Latin ebriacus "intoxicated," and the botanical name, Lolium temulentum, is from Latin temulent "drunken," though this sometimes is said to be "from the heavy seed heads lolling over under their own weight."

In some parts of continental Europe it appears the seeds of darnel have the reputation of causing intoxication in men, beasts, and birds, the effects being sometimes so violent as to produce convulsions. In Scotland the name of Sleepies, is applied to darnel, from the seeds causing narcotic effects. [Gouverneur Emerson, "The American Farmer's Encyclopedia," New York, 1860. It also mentions that "Haller speaks of them as communicating these properties to beer."]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper