[ jen-shuhn ]

  1. any of several plants of the genera Gentiana,Gentianella, and Gentianopsis, having usually blue, or sometimes yellow, white, or red, flowers, as the fringed gentian of North America, or Gentiana lutea, of Europe.: Compare gentian family.

  2. any of various plants resembling the gentian.

  1. the root of G. lutea, or a preparation of it, used as a tonic.

Origin of gentian

1350–1400; Middle English gencian<Latin gentiāna; said to be named after Gentius, an Illyrian king Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use gentian in a sentence

  • The herbs include beautiful primulas, saxifrages, and gentians, and in the bellflower order species of Codonopsis and Cyananthus.

  • On the outer border clustered tufts of delicate azure floated in the thin, pure air, veiling modest gentians.

    Blue Goose | Frank Lewis Nason
  • Flowers still clung to many of these stalks—yellow avens, alpine gentians, blue polemonium, and purple primrose.

    Watched by Wild Animals | Enos A. Mills
  • Later still, the summer closes in a splendour of bloom, with gentians and asters and goldenrod.

    Little Rivers | Henry van Dyke
  • Whether those small purple gentians are still to be found on its summit?

    Alone | Norman Douglas

British Dictionary definitions for gentian


/ (ˈdʒɛnʃən) /

  1. any gentianaceous plant of the genera Gentiana or Gentianella, having blue, yellow, white, or red showy flowers

  2. the bitter-tasting dried rhizome and roots of Gentiana lutea (European or yellow gentian), which can be used as a tonic

  1. any of several similar plants, such as the horse gentian

Origin of gentian

C14: from Latin gentiāna; perhaps named after Gentius, a second-century bc Illyrian king, reputedly the first to use it medicinally

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