lignum vitae

[lig-nuh m vahy-tee, vee-tahy]
  1. either of two tropical American trees, Guaiacum officinale or G. sanctum, of the caltrop family, having very hard, heavy wood.
  2. the wood of such a tree, used for making pulley blocks, mallet heads, bearings, etc.
  3. 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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for lignum vitae

lignum vitae

  1. either of two zygophyllaceous tropical American trees, Guaiacum officinale or G. sanctum, having blue or purple flowers
  2. 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