ar·​ni·​ca ˈär-ni-kə How to pronounce arnica (audio)
: any of a genus (Arnica) of composite herbs including some with bright yellow ray flowers

Examples of arnica in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Loaded with matcha, arnica, jojoba and calendula, your skin seemingly magically looks flawless after the first use. Erin Michelle Newberg, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 One of the main ingredients in this skin-smoothing formula is arnica, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Jennifer Hussein, Allure, 21 Nov. 2023 Formulated with niacinamide to boost brightness, peptides and hyaluronic acid to plump the skin, and a blend of arnica, squalane, and provitamin B5 to soothe, the foundation essentially doubles as a face serum and makeup to support healthy skin while also providing customizable coverage. Jessie Quinn, Peoplemag, 12 Sep. 2023 Milk Makeup Future Fluid Hydrating Concealer features Hyaluronic AI Plant Complex, a blend of six powerful ingredients: hyaluronic acid for hydration, soothing and smoothing aloe vera and arnica, skin barrier-restoring Defensil and Revivyl, and caffeine for brightness. Carrie Honaker, Southern Living, 11 Sep. 2023 For example, sensitive skin types might opt for calming ingredients like arnica, colloidal oatmeal, centella asiatica, and allantoin, while someone with dry skin might prioritize light layers of serums and gel creams to hydrate without clogging pores. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 20 July 2023 Use Arnica Cream The herbaceous plant arnica is used to treat aches, inflammation, and wounds when applied topically as a cream, ointment, or salve, according to Mount Sinai. Erica Sweeney, Men's Health, 14 July 2023 With a potent blend of Charlotte's Web hemp extract, vitamin B5, aloe, coconut oil, arnica, and shea butter, this cream elevates the appearance of healthy skin. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 6 July 2023 Combining the power of Charlotte's Web hemp extract with a botanical blend enriched with vitamin B5, aloe, coconut oil, arnica, and shea butter, this cream elevates the appearance of healthy skin to new heights. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 30 June 2023 See More

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Word History


borrowed from New Latin, of uncertain origin

Note: The genus Arnica was introduced by linnaeus in Species plantarum, vol. 2 (Stockholm, 1753), p. 884. Linnaeus cites as his source for the name Albrecht von Haller's Enumeratio methodica stirpium Helvetiae indigenarum, tomus II (Göttingen, 1742), p. 737. Haller in turn cites the essay "De Arnica Lapsorum Panacea" by the German physician Johann Michael Fehr (1610-88), which appeared in Miscellanea curiosa, sive Ephemeridum medico-physicarum Germanicarum Academiæ naturæ curiosorum, Annus nonus et decimus (1678-79, printed 1680), pp. 22-30. (The Academia naturae curiosorum ["Academy of those curious about nature"], later the Leopoldina after its patron the emperor Leopold I, and the German National Academy of Sciences since 2008, is the oldest academic society in German-speaking Europe.) Fehr appears to have been the first physician to have discussed the medical uses of arnica under this name, which he thought may have been distorted from the earlier name ptarmica "by some ignorant root-cutter, as it possesses the remarkable power of inducing sneezes": "Vox arnica ex ptarmica mihi corrupta esse videtur ab imperito quodam rhizotomo, quod insignis ipsi insit vis sternutatoria." (Ptarmica, going back to Greek ptarmikós "causing a sneeze," has been applied since Dioscorides and Galen to various flowering plants thought to induce sneezing, as Achillea ptarmica.) Prior to Johann Michael Fehr, evidence for the name arnica is very sparse. It appears in a posthumous edition (Frankfurt am Main, 1613) of the herbal Neuw Vollkommentlich Kreuterbuch by the physician and botanist Jacobus Theodorus Tabernaemontanus (Jakob Diether von Bergzabern, ca. 1522-1590), as an alternate name of the plant called Mutterwurtz in German and Caltha alpina in Latin (p. 48): "Bey den Sachsen und Seestätten wird es Woluelen geheissen bei dem gemeinen Mann : aber von den Medicis Arnica." ("Among the Saxons and in coastal locales it is called Woluelen by the common man, but by the doctors Arnica.") The name, however, seems to be lacking in the original edition of Tabernaemontanus's opus (Neuw Kreuterbuch, Frankfurt am Main, 1588). According to Gustav Hegi, Illustrierte Flora von Mittel-Europa, 6. Band, 1. Hälfte (Munich, 1918?), arnica is first found in the form arnich in the Liber pandectarum medicinae of Matthaeus Sylvaticus (ca. 1280-ca. 1342). The word does indeed appear in an early printed edition (Venice, 1498), but with the description "herba iamena boni odoris similis cinnamomo grosso" ("herb of Yemen with a good odor, resembling a coarse cinnamon"). This would seem to have no connection with Arnica montana, and, in fact, this passage is taken verbatim from a longer description in the herbalist dictionary Clavis sanationis by Simon of Genoa (active late 13th century), who calls the herb armech rather than arnich (see the website "Simon Online" at The identity of armech is undetermined.

First Known Use

circa 1753, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of arnica was circa 1753

Dictionary Entries Near arnica

Cite this Entry

“Arnica.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition


ar·​ni·​ca ˈär-ni-kə How to pronounce arnica (audio)
capitalized : a large genus of herbs (family Compositae) having flower heads that are discoid or have bright yellow rays
: a plant of the genus Arnica
: the dried flower head of any of several herbs of the genus Arnica (especially A. montana) used for stimulant and local irritant effect especially in the form of a liniment for bruises, sprains, and swellings
: a tincture made from arnica

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