Definition of basil
1 : any of several aromatic herbs (genus Ocimum) of the mint family; especially : sweet basil
2 : the dried or fresh leaves of a basil used especially as a seasoning
Recent Examples of basil from the Web
Try some herbs, too; basil loves summer heat and is a perfect accompaniment to those tomatoes.
African blue basil is a flowering perennial with fragrant purple leaves and flowers that bring in the bees.
Even some herbs including basil, chives and mint may produce flowers that can be added to arrangements.
The basil leaves’ own oils emulsify, along with sharp parmigiano, local oil, and pine nuts, into a sauce that is ineluctably creamy.
The tea can often include ginger, mint, and basil, but the ingredients are really up to the bush picker that morning.
In a bowl, combine the biscuit mix, Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, basil and salt. 2.
For the finishing touch, garnish the glass with strawberries and basil.
As summer comes to a close, the hot weather and humid temperatures mean that basil goes crazy.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'basil'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of basil
Middle English basyl, basyle, shortening (perhaps by confusion with Medieval French basile “basilisk”) of Medieval French basilic or its source, Medieval Latin basilicon, borrowed from Greek basilikón (for presumed basilikòn phytón “royal plant”), noun derivative from neuter of basilikós “royal” — more at basilica ◆The word basilikón as a name for a plant or herb is marginally attested in ancient and early post-classical Greek, the usual word for what is presumed to be Ocimum basilicum in Greek being ṓkimon. The identity of a lákhanon basilikón (“royal herb”) in the pseudo-Aristotelian De plantis (2nd century b.c.) is uncertain. The lexicon of Hesychius (5th-6th centuries a.d., incorporating much ancient material) glosses ṓkimon as “fragrant herb, called basilikón” (“botánē euṓdēs, tò legómenon basilikón”).
First Known Use: 15th century
BASIL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of basil for English Language Learners
: an herb that has a sweet smell and that is used in cooking
BASIL Defined for Kids
Definition of basil for Students
: a fragrant mint used in cooking
Seen and Heard
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