ar·​um ˈa-rəm How to pronounce arum (audio)
: any of a genus (Arum of the family Araceae, the arum family) of Eurasian plants having usually arrow-shaped leaves and a showy spathe partially enclosing a spadix
broadly : a plant of the arum family

Examples of arum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Another plant in the same family follows a similar strategy; the aptly named dead-horse arum emits a smell similar to that of a rotting corpse, tricking potential pollinators to come closer for a taste. Sean Mowbray, Discover Magazine, 20 Oct. 2023 Italian arum weed in my yard is worse than last year, even with extensive weeding. oregonlive, 26 Mar. 2023 Titan arum is native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where it is threatened. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 4 Nov. 2022 Leaves like Titan arum are green because of chlorophyll, the one chemical that’s responsible for the green in every single leaf on every type of plant. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 4 Nov. 2022 Where and when to see the Cincinnati Zoo's corpse flower With the scientific name Titan arum, the zoo's social media followers have lovingly nicknamed the plant Morticia. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 20 July 2022 Arum italicum or Italian arum is a cool season shade perennial. Janet Carson, Arkansas Online, 20 Dec. 2021 Blackberry, tree-of-heaven, invasive knotweeds, garlic mustard, lesser celandine, Italian arum and horsetail are some examples that are difficult to control. oregonlive, 3 June 2021 If the arum is located across a larger area, herbicides are an option but even in strong formulations will mostly just set it back rather than kill it, due to its thick waxy leaves and multitude of bulbs. oregonlive, 27 Mar. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'arum.' 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 Arum (Linnaeus), a genus name, going back to Latin, "any of several plants of the genus Arum," borrowed from Greek áron "the plant Arum italicum or a related species," perhaps borrowed from Egyptian ʿr "bulrush, reed"

Note: The Egyptian source was hypothesized by Bertrand Hemmerdinger in "Noms communs grecs d'origine égyptienne," Glotta, Band 46, Heft 3/4 (1968), p. 244, citing Erman-Grapow, Wörterbuch der aegyptischen Sprache, Band 1, p. 208. Hemmerdinger takes up the issue again in "De la méconnaissance de quelques étymologies grecques," Glotta, Band 48, Heft 1/2 (1970), p. 54, where he posits Semitic or Egyptian sources for words of uncertain origin in Chantraine's etymological dictionary. He draws attention to the passage (19.33) in Pliny's Historia naturalis in which "aron" is said to be a name used in Egypt: "Est inter genera et quod in Aegypto aron vocant." If this plant is correctly identified as Colocasia antiquorum, however—the suggestion in Liddell and Scott's dictionary—it can scarcely have any connection with an Egyptian word meaning "reed" or "rush," as neither this plant nor Arum italicum has any resemblance to a reed.

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of arum was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near arum

Cite this Entry

“Arum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


ar·​um ˈar-əm How to pronounce arum (audio)
: any of a family of plants (as the jack-in-the-pulpit or the skunk cabbage) having heart-shaped or sword-shaped leaves and flowers in a fleshy spike enclosed in a leafy covering

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