any of numerous plants of the genus Euphorbia, having a milky juice and flowers with no petals or sepals.

Compare spurge family.

Origin of spurge

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French espurge, noun derivative of espurgier to cleanse < Latin expurgāre. See ex-1, purge
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spurge

Historical Examples of spurge

  • Well; do not open my eyes with pincers, nor compose for them a collyrium of spurge.

  • There are caterpillars which eat the leaves of the Euphorbia, or spurge, for instance.

    The Insect World

    Louis Figuier

  • This caterpillar is almost always found on the Cyprus-leafed spurge.

    The Insect World

    Louis Figuier

  • Thus the Spurge, that is noxious to man, is a most wholesome nourishment to the Caterpillar.

  • Bitter as spurge was that old story of hers now, and bitterer still the only moral lesson it now appeared to her to have.

    The Story of Louie

    Oliver Onions

British Dictionary definitions for spurge



any of various euphorbiaceous plants of the genus Euphorbia that have milky sap and small flowers typically surrounded by conspicuous bracts. Some species have purgative properties

Word Origin for spurge

C14: from Old French espurge, from espurgier to purge, from Latin expurgāre to cleanse, from ex- 1 + purgāre to purge
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 spurge

plant species, late 14c., from Old French espurge, from espurgier "to purge," from Latin expurgare, from ex- "out" (see ex-) + purgare "to purge" (see purge). So called from the plant's purgative properties.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper