[tril-ee-uh m]
  1. any of several plants belonging to the genus Trillium, of the lily family, having a whorl of three leaves from the center of which rises a solitary, three-petalled flower.

Origin of trillium

< New Latin (Linnaeus), apparently alteration of Swedish trilling triplet, alluding to the foliation Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for trillium

Historical Examples of trillium

  • Mr. John Burroughs says his sign is the wake-robin, or trillium.

    The Spring of the Year

    Dallas Lore Sharp

  • Many of these names are applied also to other species of Trillium.

    Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants

    A. R. (Arthur Robert) Harding

  • "All of the same everlasting old pattern," grumbled a trillium.

    A Round Dozen

    Susan Coolidge

  • I plucked my first dandelion on a meadow slope on the 23d, and in the woods, protected by a high ledge, my first trillium.

    A Year in the Fields

    John Burroughs

  • Hepaticas nearly always grow on the same slope, but they come into blossom about two days later than the trillium.

    Some Spring Days in Iowa

    Frederick John Lazell

British Dictionary definitions for trillium


  1. any herbaceous plant of the genus Trillium, of Asia and North America, having a whorl of three leaves at the top of the stem with a single central white, pink, or purple three-petalled flower: family Trilliaceae

Word Origin for trillium

C18: from New Latin, modification by Linnaeus of Swedish trilling triplet
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 trillium

1768, from Modern Latin trillium (Linnaeus, 1753), from Latin tri- "three" (see three). So called for its leaves.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper