[ spahyk-nerd, -nahrd ]
/ ˈspaɪk nərd, -nɑrd /


an aromatic, Indian plant, Nardostachys jatamansi, of the valerian family, believed to be the nard of the ancients.
an aromatic substance used by the ancients, supposed to be obtained from this plant.
any of various other plants, especially an American plant, Aralia racemosa, of the ginseng family, having an aromatic root.

Origin of spikenard

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English word from Medieval Latin word spīca nardī. See spike2, nard
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spikenard

British Dictionary definitions for spikenard


/ (ˈspaɪknɑːd, ˈspaɪkəˌnɑːd) /


an aromatic Indian valerianaceous plant, Nardostachys jatamans, having rose-purple flowers
an aromatic ointment obtained from this plant
any of various similar or related plants
a North American araliaceous plant, Aralia racemosa, having small green flowers and an aromatic root
Also called (for senses 1, 2): nard

Word Origin for spikenard

C14: from Medieval Latin spīca nardī; see spike ², nard
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 spikenard



mid-14c., "aromatic substance from an Indian plant," from Medieval Latin spica nardi (see spike (n.2)), rendering Greek nardou stakhys; the second element probably ultimately from Sanskrit nalada-, the name of the plant.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper