any plant of the genus Linum, especially L. usitatissimum, a slender, erect, annual plant having narrow, lance-shaped leaves and blue flowers, cultivated for its fiber and seeds.
the fiber of this plant, manufactured into linen yarn for thread or woven fabrics.
any of various plants resembling flax.

Origin of flax

before 900; Middle English; Old English fleax; cognate with Dutch, Low German vlas, German Flachs
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for flax

Contemporary Examples of flax

Historical Examples of flax

  • The flax which was sown in this country rose three feet high.

    The History of Louisiana

    Le Page Du Pratz

  • Fruit trees, Turkey corn, vines, and flax flourished in luxuriance.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • They won't be bothered with flax, which wants no end of attention.

    Ireland as It Is

    Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)

  • Then the girl took the flax and drove the heifer out to graze.

  • Sheets and table-cloths were of flax or hemp; dishes were of brass or pewter.

    William Shakespeare

    Samuel Levy Bensusan

British Dictionary definitions for flax



any herbaceous plant or shrub of the genus Linum, esp L. usitatissimum, which has blue flowers and is cultivated for its seeds (flaxseed) and for the fibres of its stems: family Linaceae
the fibre of this plant, made into thread and woven into linen fabrics
any of various similar plants
Also called: harakeke NZ a swamp plant producing a fibre that is used by Māoris for decorative work, baskets, etc

Word Origin for flax

Old English fleax; related to Old Frisian flax, Old High German flahs flax, Greek plekein to plait
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 flax

Old English fleax "cloth made with flax, linen," from Proto-Germanic *flakhsan (cf. Old Frisian flax, Middle Dutch and Dutch vlas, Old Saxon flas, Old High German flahs, German Flachs), probably from Proto-Germanic base *fleh-, corresponding to PIE *plek- "to weave, plait" (see ply (v.1)). But some connect it with PIE *pleik- (see flay) from the notion of "stripping" fiber to prepare it.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper