basil

noun
ba·​sil | \ ˈba-zəl How to pronounce basil (audio) , ˈbā-, -səl How to pronounce basil (audio) \

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

Basil

biographical name
Bas·​il | \ ˈbā-zəl How to pronounce Basil (audio) , ˈba-, -səl\
variants: or Basilius \ bə-​ˈsi-​lē-​əs How to pronounce Basilius (audio) , -​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

Rosemary, basil and thyme are pleasant-smelling additions to a garden that also provide fresh seasoning for home cooking. Tim Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Stop and smell the roses — or chocolate cosmos. These plants make your garden smell as good as it looks.," 11 June 2018 Small pots of rosemary and basil dispense their fragrances throughout the place, and the tables are simple but stylish, with neat white mats and wine served in tiny tumblers. Maresa Manara, Condé Nast Traveler, "19 Best Spots for Aperitivo in Rome," 1 Mar. 2018 Remove from heat and toss with pasta, lemon juice, crab, and basil. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Pappardelle with Crab, Snap Peas, Orange, and Chiles," 29 Apr. 2019 Gonzalez’s kitchen showed some finesse with that zuppa, a generous helping of shellfish and calamari cooked just right in a delicate seafood broth tinted with tomato and basil. Craig Laban, Philly.com, "Jersey Shore restaurants offer tasty food options from Cape May to LBI," 29 June 2018 Request the Godfather, which is filled with prosciutto, soppressata, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes and fresh basil. Ed Condran, courant.com, "Philadelphia Emerges As Colorful Travel Destination," 24 June 2018 Chef D'Angelo’s signature lasagna is a popular dish, as is his fresh potato gnocchi topped with homemade tomato and basil sauce and fresh buffalo mozzarella. Jennifer M. Wood, Condé Nast Traveler, "3 Best Day Trips from Miami," 4 Mar. 2018 Add the bell peppers, tomatoes, and basil; season with salt and pepper. Daniel Boulud, ELLE Decor, "Leg of Lamb with Spring Vegetables Recipe," 7 Apr. 2010 Gorin keeps dried dill, basil, rosemary, cilantro, oregano, and parsley around for things like pasta, frittatas, salads, sandwiches, and more. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "11 Spices Everyone Should Have in Their Pantry," 23 Mar. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of basil

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for basil

Noun

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").

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about basil

Dictionary Entries near basil

basifixed

basifugal

basify

basil

Basil

Basilan

basilar

Statistics for basil

Last Updated

25 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for basil

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for basil

basil

noun

English Language Learners Definition of basil

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

basil

noun
ba·​sil | \ ˈba-zəl How to pronounce basil (audio) , ˈbā-\

Kids Definition of basil

: a fragrant mint used in cooking

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on basil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with basil

Spanish Central: Translation of basil

Nglish: Translation of basil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of basil for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about basil

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

incapable of being surmounted or overcome

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!