noun Botany.

a bract or pair of bracts, often large and colored, subtending or enclosing a spadix or flower cluster.

Origin of spathe

1775–85; < Latin spatha < Greek spáthē blade, sword, stem; cf. spade2
Related formsspathed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spathe

Historical Examples of spathe

  • The spathe which contains the flowers is also put to many uses.

  • On examining the tub I have spoken of, we found that it was formed from the spathe of the palm.

  • Operations begin when the spathe is still enclosed by its sheath.

  • This organ, rolled up in a coil or spiral, is named the spathe.

    Everyday Objects

    W. H. Davenport Adams

  • In Richardia æthiopica one or more leaves become occasionally as white as the spathe is usually.

    Vegetable Teratology

    Maxwell T. Masters

British Dictionary definitions for spathe



a large bract, often coloured, that surrounds the inflorescence of aroid plants and palms
Derived Formsspathaceous (spəˈθeɪʃəs), adjectivespathed, adjective

Word Origin for spathe

C18: from Latin spatha, from Greek spathē a blade
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

Science definitions for spathe



A large, leaflike, often showy bract that encloses a flower cluster or spadix, as in the jack-in-the-pulpit or calla lily.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.