[lig-nuh m vahy-tee, vee-tahy]
- either of two tropical American trees, Guaiacum officinale or G. sanctum, of the caltrop family, having very hard, heavy wood.
- the wood of such a tree, used for making pulley blocks, mallet heads, bearings, etc.
- any of several other trees yielding a similar hard wood.
Origin of lignum vitae
1585–95; < New Latin, Late Latin, name of the tree, literally, wood of life
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- either of two zygophyllaceous tropical American trees, Guaiacum officinale or G. sanctum, having blue or purple flowers
- the heavy resinous wood of either of these trees, which is used in machine bearings, casters, etc: formerly thought to have medicinal properties
See also guaiacum
Word Origin for lignum vitae
New Latin, from Late Latin, literally: wood of life
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