ba·sil | \ˈba-zəl, ˈbā-, -səl \

Definition of basil 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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


biographical name
Bas·il | \ˈbā-zəl, ˈba-, -səl\
variants: or Basilius \bə-ˈsi-lē-əs, -ˈzi- \

Definition of Basil (Entry 2 of 2)

Saint circa 329–379 the Great church father; bishop of Caesarea

Examples of basil in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Top with a splash of club soda to taste and a basil leaf for garnish. Maya Wilson, Anchorage Daily News, "Rhubarb meets gin in a rose-colored, refreshing summer cocktail," 5 July 2018 Italian seasoning, or more to taste Optional: chopped fresh basil1. Madison Roberts,, "Hungry Girl's Eggplant Marinara Is the Cure for Busy Weeknights," 18 June 2018 Using GT’s Living Foods Kombucha, the Harvest Room’s new kombucha fizz cocktail menu features four selections, including a mojito made with regular kombucha, cucumber basil-infused gin and lavender honey syrup. Vickie Snow Jurkowski, Daily Southtown, "New summer cocktail menus make the most of seasonal herbs and produce," 7 June 2018 There’s a gadget for slicing garlic, another for making zoodles, another for chopping basil that goes on top of the pasta. Amanda Shapiro, Bon Appetit, "Whatever Happened to Pampered Chef? I Hosted a Party to Find Out," 26 Mar. 2018 Toss chopped romaine lettuce with sliced grape tomatoes, chopped cucumber, chopped basil, rinsed and drained capers, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil. Lori Powell And Janis Jibrin, Good Housekeeping, "Chicken Panzanella Salad," 7 Dec. 2017 Stir well and garnish with fresh basil and fresh whole blueberries., "6 Mocktail Recipes That Make Happy Hour Way Healthier," 12 July 2018 At the hospital, a doctor approved the boys’ request for bread with chocolate spread, officials said, but rejected another request for a favorite food, pad krapao, or fried pork with basil. New York Times, "Freed From Thai Cave, Boys May Still Face Health Problems," 10 July 2018 Some of them asked for a favorite local dish, spicy pork stir-fried with basil. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "Divers Rescue Four More Boys From Thai Cave, Bringing Total to Eight," 9 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of basil


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for basil


Middle English basyl, basyle, shortening (perhaps by confusion with Middle French basile "basilisk") of Middle 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

Note: 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").

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Statistics for basil

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for basil

The first known use of basil was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of basil

: an herb that has a sweet smell and that is used in cooking


ba·sil | \ˈba-zəl, ˈbā-\

Kids Definition of basil

: a fragrant mint used in cooking

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Comments on basil

What made you want to look up basil? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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