heliotrope

[hee-lee-uh-trohp, heel-yuh- or, esp. British, hel-yuh-]
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noun
  1. any hairy plant belonging to the genus Heliotropium, of the borage family, as H. arborescens, cultivated for its small, fragrant purple flowers.
  2. any of various other plants, as the valerian or the winter heliotrope.
  3. any plant that turns toward the sun.
  4. a light tint of purple; reddish lavender.
  5. Surveying. an arrangement of mirrors for reflecting sunlight from a distant point to an observation station.
  6. bloodstone.

Origin of heliotrope

1580–90; < Middle French héliotrope < Latin hēliotropium < Greek hēliotrópion (see helio-, -trope); compare Middle English elitropium, elitropius, Old English eliotropus < Medieval Latin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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British Dictionary definitions for heliotrope

heliotrope

noun
  1. any boraginaceous plant of the genus Heliotropium, esp the South American H. arborescens, cultivated for its small fragrant purple flowers
  2. garden heliotrope a widely cultivated valerian, Valeriana officinalis, with clusters of small pink, purple, or white flowers
  3. any of various plants that turn towards the sun
    1. a bluish-violet to purple colour
    2. (as adjective)a heliotrope dress
  4. an instrument used in geodetic surveying employing the sun's rays reflected by a mirror as a signal for the sighting of stations over long distances
  5. another name for bloodstone

Word Origin for heliotrope

C17: from Latin hēliotropium, from Greek hēliotropion, from hēlios sun + trepein to turn
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 heliotrope
n.

"plant which turns its flowers and leaves to the sun," 1620s, from French héliotrope (14c.) and directly from Latin heliotropium, from Greek heliotropion, from helios "sun" (see sol) + tropos "turn" (see trope). The word was applied c.1000-1600 in Latin form to sunflowers and marigolds. Related: Heliotropic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper