• synonyms


[hee-lee-uh-trohp, heel-yuh- or, esp. British, hel-yuh-]
See more synonyms for heliotrope on Thesaurus.com
  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.
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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

Related Words for heliotrope

color, mauve, plum, lilac, lavender, periwinkle, violet, heliotrope, pomegranate, mulberry, amethyst, magenta, wine, orchid, amaranthine, perse, violaceous

Examples from the Web for heliotrope

Historical Examples of heliotrope

  • I can tell a geranium, when I see it, and I know a heliotrope by the smell.

    Beauty and The Beast, and Tales From Home

    Bayard Taylor

  • And then under the table he espied a square of heliotrope paper.

    The Vagrant Duke

    George Gibbs

  • Sprinkles her handkerchief with heliotrope and wipes the blood from Schn's hand.

  • Was this garden, which was all white, in any way connected with the sunbeams and heliotrope?

    Scottish Ghost Stories

    Elliott O'Donnell

  • Heliotrope is the name of the scent, my dear, but please do not allude to it again.

    Scottish Ghost Stories

    Elliott O'Donnell

British Dictionary definitions for heliotrope


  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
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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


"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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper