[nahr-sis-uh s]
noun, plural nar·cis·sus, nar·cis·sus·es, nar·cis·si [nahr-sis-ee, -sis-ahy] /nɑrˈsɪs i, -ˈsɪs aɪ/ for 1, 2.
  1. any bulbous plant belonging to the genus Narcissus, of the amaryllis family, having showy yellow or white flowers with a cup-shaped corona.
  2. the flower of any of these plants.
  3. (initial capital letter) Classical Mythology. a youth who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool and wasted away from unsatisfied desire, whereupon he was transformed into the flower.

Origin of narcissus

1540–50; < Latin < Greek nárkissos plant name, traditionally connected, by virtue of plant's narcotic effects, with nárkē numbness, torpor. See narcotic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for narcissi

Historical Examples of narcissi

  • Mr. Haggard, in his cassock, was arranging the narcissi on the altar.

    Boy Woodburn

    Alfred Ollivant

  • Also some narcissi and a few tulips—pink ones for the drawing-room.

    Sally Bishop

    E. Temple Thurston

  • The air was dim and coloured from the windows and thrilled with a subtle scent of lilies and narcissi.

    Sons and Lovers

    David Herbert Lawrence

  • Collecting a few bundles of the narcissi that bloomed abundantly about the cottages, he sent them to Covent Garden Market.

  • The ground beneath them was bespattered with narcissi and anemones, the very olive trees looked gay.

    The Making of a Saint

    William Somerset Maugham

British Dictionary definitions for narcissi


noun plural -cissuses or -cissi (-ˈsɪsaɪ, -ˈsɪsiː)
  1. any amaryllidaceous plant of the Eurasian genus Narcissus, esp N. poeticus, whose yellow, orange, or white flowers have a crown surrounded by spreading segments

Word Origin for narcissus

C16: via Latin from Greek nárkissos, perhaps from narkē numbness, because of narcotic properties attributed to species of the plant


  1. Greek myth a beautiful youth who fell in love with his reflection in a pool and pined away, becoming the flower that bears his name
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 narcissi



type of bulbous flowering plant, 1540s, from Latin narcissus, from Greek narkissos "the narcissus," perhaps from a pre-Greek Aegean word, but associated with Greek narke "numbness" (see narcotic) because of the sedative effect of the alkaloids in the plant.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

narcissi in Culture


A beautiful youth in classical mythology who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. Because he was unable to tear himself away from the image, he wasted away and died.


“Narcissists” are people completely absorbed in themselves. (See narcissism.)
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.