alys·​sum ə-ˈli-səm How to pronounce alyssum (audio)
: any of a genus (Alyssum) of Eurasian herbs of the mustard family with small usually yellow racemose flowers

called also madwort


Examples of alyssum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For example, you can get rid of squash bugs by protecting plants with a physical barrier like floating row covers, picking the insects off by hand, and planting marigold, calendula, sunflower, daisy, alyssum, or dill to attract beneficial insect predators. Deb Wiley, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 Apr. 2023 Perhaps in a fancy lemonade! Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 5-9 SHOP THYME SEEDS 2 Alyssum White alyssum is a great way to fill in the areas of your garden that aren't already populated by plants and flowers. Melissa Ozawa, Country Living, 1 June 2023 According to Blazek, alyssum often does double duty as both a spring and fall bloomer. Jeanne Ambrose, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Mar. 2023 Planting and propagation Plant gladioli, hardy transplants of alyssum, phlox and marigolds, if weather and soil conditions permit. oregonlive, 1 Apr. 2022 Bluebonnets, larkspur and blue-curl wildflowers, along with the winter weeds (henbit, bedstraw, rescue grass, dandelions and annual bluegrass), made it through the cold well, but the cool-weather annuals — stocks, alyssum, calendula, dianthus, sweet peas and petunias — were frozen. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, 5 Mar. 2021 Pollinators and other good garden bugs are drawn to alyssum. Jeanne Ambrose, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Mar. 2023 Sweet alyssum has delicate, sweetly scented blooms and flowers from spring to frost. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 26 May 2022 Sweet alyssum looks amazing tumbling out of baskets and window boxes or cascading over a wall. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 26 May 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'alyssum.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, genus name, going back to Latin alysson "a kind of madder," borrowed from Greek álysson "any of several plants used to treat rabies," noun derivative from neuter of ályssos "curing madness," from a- a- entry 2 + -lyssos, adjective derivative of lýssa, Attic lýtta "rage, frenzy, rabies," perhaps derivative, with the abstract noun suffix *-ya (going back to Indo-European *-i̯h2) from the stem of lýkos "wolf" — more at wolf entry 1

Note: An alternative hypothesis sees a connection with Indo-European *luk-, zero grade of the base *leu̯k- "light, bright" (see light entry 1), assuming an association between rage or frenzy and unnaturally sparkling eyes. Support for this association is allegedly given by the phrase in Pindar leukaîs pithḗsanta phrasín "heeding his bright/flashing/violent (?) heart," along with Hesychius's gloss of leukaî phrénes as "raging" (mainómenai).

First Known Use

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of alyssum was in 1548

Dictionary Entries Near alyssum

Cite this Entry

“Alyssum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

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