alys·​sum | \ ə-ˈli-səm How to pronounce alyssum (audio) \

Definition of alyssum

1 : 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 In addition to pansies, snapdragons, stocks and alyssum among the cool-weather annuals now blooming, cemetery iris and paperwhites are blooming, too. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, 4 Feb. 2022 White alyssum, ferns, society garlic, aloes, aeoniums and other succulents surround the adjacent pond and nearby waterfall. Nicole Sours Larson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 June 2022 Sweet alyssum likes sun but can handle a little shade. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 26 May 2022 Stocks, petunias, dianthus and alyssum are following their lead. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, 25 Feb. 2022 As a replacement for the zinnias, expect the snapdragons, stocks, alyssum, pansies, petunias and other cool-weather annuals to fill in the now-available space. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, 14 Jan. 2022 Others that grow and flower well with the mild-to-cool temperatures include geraniums, petunias, calendula, ornamental cabbage and kale, lobelia and alyssum. Tom Maccubbin,, 30 Oct. 2021 For fragrance in your bouquets, plant stocks, alyssum and sweet peas. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, 1 Oct. 2021 Stocks and alyssum are easy to grow from transplants. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, 1 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alyssum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of alyssum

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for alyssum

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).

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The first known use of alyssum was in 1548

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Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Alyssum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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