any terrestrial or epiphytic plant of the family Orchidaceae, of temperate and tropical regions, having usually showy flowers.Compare orchid family.
the flower of any of these plants.
a bluish to reddish purple.

Origin of orchid

1835–45; < New Latin Orchideae (later Orchidaceae) family name, equivalent to Latin orch(is) a plant (see orchis) + -ideae, irregular suffix (cf. -idae); see -id2


variant of orchido- before a vowel: orchidology.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for orchid

Contemporary Examples of orchid

  • "I found it completely riveting," said Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Jon Krakauer's Hunt for Truth

    Nick Summers

    April 22, 2011

  • On my kitchen windowsill (yes, I have a windowed kitchen, my first ever), are four orchid plants.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Bag Lady Papers Cont'd

    Alexandra Penney

    December 22, 2008

Historical Examples of orchid

  • Daintily swinging, like clustered pearls, were the petals of the orchid.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • Who shall claim to know his orchid who knows not its insect sponsor?

    My Studio Neighbors

    William Hamilton Gibson

  • How are we to know that this blossom which we plucked is an orchid?

    My Studio Neighbors

    William Hamilton Gibson

  • Angræcum, orchid of Madagascar, with nectary eleven inches long, 219.

    My Studio Neighbors

    William Hamilton Gibson

  • He would also carry out his dream by making the orchid a gift to Lady Coke.

British Dictionary definitions for orchid



any terrestrial or epiphytic plant of the family Orchidaceae, often having flowers of unusual shapes and beautiful colours, specialized for pollination by certain insectsSee bee orchid, burnt-tip orchid, fly orchid, frog orchid, lady orchid, lizard orchid, man orchid, monkey orchid, purple-fringed orchid, pyramidal orchid, scented orchid, spider orchid, spotted orchid

Word Origin for orchid

C19: from New Latin Orchideae; see orchis
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 orchid

1845, introduced by John Lindley in "School Botanty," from Modern Latin Orchideæ (Linnaeus), the plant's family name, from Latin orchis, a kind of orchid, from Greek orkhis (genitive orkheos) "orchid," literally "testicle," from PIE *orghi-, the standard root for "testicle" (cf. Avestan erezi "testicles," Armenian orjik, Middle Irish uirgge, Irish uirge "testicle," Lithuanian erzilas "stallion"). The plant so called because of the shape of its root. Earlier in English in Latin form, orchis (1560s), and in Middle English it was ballockwort (c.1300; see ballocks). Marred by extraneous -d- in an attempt to extract the Latin stem.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper