1. any plant of the genus Myrtus, especially M. communis, a shrub of southern Europe having evergreen leaves, fragrant white flowers, and aromatic berries: anciently held sacred to Venus and used as an emblem of love.Compare myrtle family.
  2. any of certain unrelated plants, as the periwinkle, Vinca minor, and California laurel, Umbellularia californica.
  3. Also called myr·tle·wood [mur-tl-woo d] /ˈmɜr tlˌwʊd/. the hard, golden-brown wood of the California laurel.
  4. Also called myrtle green. dark green with bluish tinge.

Origin of myrtle

1350–1400; Middle English mirtile < Medieval Latin myrtillus, equivalent to Latin myrt(us) (< Greek mýrtos) + New Latin -illus diminutive suffix


  1. a female given name. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for myrtle


  1. any evergreen shrub or tree of the myrtaceous genus Myrtus, esp M. communis, a S European shrub with pink or white flowers and aromatic blue-black berries
  2. short for crape myrtle
  3. bog myrtleanother name for sweet gale
  4. creeping myrtle or trailing myrtle US and Canadian another name for periwinkle 2 (def. 1)

Word Origin for myrtle

C16: from Medieval Latin myrtilla, from Latin myrtus, from Greek murtos
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 myrtle

c.1400, from Old French mirtile, from Medieval Latin myrtillus, diminutive of Latin myrtus "myrtle tree," from Greek myrtos "the myrtle, a sprig of myrtle," from same Semitic source as Greek myrrha (see myrrh).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper