[man-dreyk, -drik]


a narcotic, short-stemmed European plant, Mandragora officinarum, of the nightshade family, having a fleshy, often forked root somewhat resembling a human form.
the May apple.

Origin of mandrake

1275–1325; Middle English, variant of mandrage (short for mandragora), taken by folk etymology as man1 + drake2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mandrakes

Historical Examples of mandrakes

  • I went on picking my mandrakes in the forest, and waited for you to send for La Corriveau.

    The Golden Dog

    William Kirby

  • And shall we go over into the woods where the mandrakes are in bloom?

  • Some call them mandrakes, but they do not rise shrieking, nor kill the wight that plucks them.


    Mary Johnston

  • Yes, there were the mandrakes with their finger-shaped leaves.

  • Mandrakes and mandrake-men, zombie-men, from the past and multiple revivals!

    The Sky Is Falling

    Lester del Rey

British Dictionary definitions for mandrakes


mandragora (mænˈdræɡərə)


a Eurasian solanaceous plant, Mandragora officinarum, with purplish flowers and a forked root. It was formerly thought to have magic powers and a narcotic was prepared from its root
another name for the May apple

Word Origin for mandrake

C14: probably via Middle Dutch from Latin mandragoras (whence Old English mandragora), from Greek. The form mandrake was probably adopted through folk etymology, because of the allegedly human appearance of the root and because drake (dragon) suggested magical powers
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 mandrakes



narcotic plant, early 14c., mondrake, from Medieval Latin mandragora, from Latin mandragoras, from Greek mandragoras, probably from a non-Indo-European word. The word was in late Old English in its Latin form; folk etymology associated the second element with dragoun and substituted native drake in its place. The forked root is thought to resemble a human body and is said to shriek when pulled from the ground.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper