[urb or, esp. British, hurb]


a flowering plant whose stem above ground does not become woody.
such a plant when valued for its medicinal properties, flavor, scent, or the like.
Often the herb. Slang. marijuana.
Archaic. herbage.


    give it the herbs, Australian Slang. to use full power, especially in accelerating a car.

Origin of herb

1250–1300; Middle English herbe < Old French erbe, herbe < Latin herba
Related formsherb·less, adjectiveherb·like, adjective




a male given name, form of Herbert.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for herb

Contemporary Examples of herb

Historical Examples of herb

  • Mary put her patient "to-rights," and set some herb drink on the back of the stove.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • She made a feint of accepting the herb, and then pointed to him and to the road.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • And I crossed the water on the shoe, picked the herb and ate it.

  • The dispelling of the charm was just the natural physical action of the herb.


    Benjamin Taylor

  • A curious instance of the value of the herb in this respect occurred in 1760.


    Benjamin Taylor

British Dictionary definitions for herb



a seed-bearing plant whose aerial parts do not persist above ground at the end of the growing season; herbaceous plant
  1. any of various usually aromatic plants, such as parsley, rue, and rosemary, that are used in cookery and medicine
  2. (as modifier)a herb garden
Caribbean a slang term for marijuana
Derived Formsherblike, adjective

Word Origin for herb

C13: from Old French herbe, from Latin herba grass, green plants
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 herb

c.1300, erbe "non-woody plant," from Old French erbe "grass, herb, plant" (12c.), from Latin herba "grass, an herb, herbage, turf." Refashioned after Latin since 15c., but the h- was mute until 19c. Slang meaning "marijuana" is attested from 1960s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for herb



A flowering plant whose stem does not produce woody tissue and generally dies back at the end of each growing season. Both grasses and forbs are herbs.
Related formsherbaceous adjective (hûr-bāshəs, ûr-)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.