Definition of Blephilia
: a small genus of North American herbs (family Labiatae) with opposite hairy leaves and purplish or bluish flowers in dense clusters
Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.
Join MWU now and get access to America’s largest dictionary, with:
- 300,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
- Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
- Advanced search features
- Ad free!
Origin and Etymology of blephilia
borrowed from New Latin, of unknown origin ◆Name introduced by the French polymath Constantine Samuel Rafinesque (1783-1840) in “Prodrome des nouveaux Genres de Plantes observés en 1817 et 1818 dans l’intérieur des États-Unis d’Amérique,” Journal de Physique, de Chimie, d’Histoire Naturelle et des Arts, tome 89 (juillet, an 1819), p. 98. Like a number of other taxa coined by Rafinesque, the origin is obscure and not elucidated by the author. The initial bleph- suggests Greek blépharon “eyelid” or blepharís “eyelash,” but the nature of -ilia remains unknown, and the semantic connection is not apparent from Rafinesque’s description of the plant. Note that the International Plant Names Index refers the name to a review by Rafinesque of Thomas Nuttall’s The Genera of North American Plants (1818) in The American Monthly Magazine and Critical Review, vol. 4, no. 3 (January, 1819), p. 190; this occurrence may have chronological priority, though it does not expand on either the plant or the name (“Monarda ciliata must form a new genus, which we call Blephilia, distinguished by an unequal calyx”).
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up Blephilia? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).