• synonyms


  1. any of various plants of the genus Solanum, especially the black nightshade or the bittersweet.
  2. any of various other related plants, as the deadly nightshade.
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Origin of nightshade

before 1000; Middle English; Old English nihtscada. See night, shade
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nightshade

Historical Examples

  • Alas for the mingling of the nightshade with the marriage garlands!

    The Wedding Ring

    T. De Witt Talmage

  • We do not call the nightshade a weed in our hedges, nor the scarlet agaric in our woods.

  • Forth they come exulting,—the nightshade and the lily, the thistle and the rose.

    The Love Story of Abner Stone

    Edwin Carlile Litsey

  • Circa alpina (enchanter's nightshade), very common in woods.

    The Maine Woods

    Henry David Thoreau

  • This is the Latin name of the Nightshade, meaning "quieting."

British Dictionary definitions for nightshade


  1. any of various solanaceous plants, such as deadly nightshade, woody nightshade, and black nightshade
  2. See enchanter's nightshade
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Word Origin

Old English nihtscada, apparently night + shade, referring to the poisonous or soporific qualities of these plants
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 nightshade


Old English nihtscada, literally "shade of night," perhaps in allusion to the poisonous berries. A common Germanic compound, cf. Dutch nachtschade, German Nachtschatten.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper