a European plant, Isatis tinctoria, of the mustard family, formerly cultivated for a blue dye extracted from its leaves.
the dye extracted from this plant.

Origin of woad

before 1000; Middle English wode, Old English wād (cognate with German Waid); akin to French guède, Medieval Latin waizda < Germanic
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Examples from the Web for woad

Historical Examples of woad

  • When woad is now used it is always in combination with indigo, to improve the colour.

    Vegetable Dyes

    Ethel M. Mairet

  • No woollen cloth was allowed to be dyed black except with woad.

    The Story of London

    Henry B. Wheatley

  • Many tribes dyed their skin with a colour extracted from the leaf of the woad.

    The Human Race

    Louis Figuier

  • The same "woad" which was used by the Britons to paint themselves with.

    The Romance of Plant Life

    G. F. Scott Elliot

  • On her right, warriors, long-haired, mustached and painted with woad.

    Nirvana Days

    Cale Young Rice

British Dictionary definitions for woad



a European plant, Isatis tinctoria, formerly cultivated for its leaves, which yield a blue dye: family Brassicaceae (crucifers)See also dyer's-weed, dyer's rocket
the dye obtained from this plant, used esp by the ancient Britons, as a body dye

Word Origin for woad

Old English wād; related to Old High German weit; Middle Dutch wēd, Latin vitrum
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 woad

Old English wad, from Proto-Germanic *waido- (cf. Danish vaid, Old Frisian wed, Middle Dutch wede, Dutch wede, Old High German weit, German Waid "woad"), probably cognate with Latin vitrium "glass" (see vitreous). Old type of blue dye processed from plant leaves, since superseded by indigo. French guède, Italian guado are Germanic loan-words.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper