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

If not serving immediately, wait to add torn basil until just before serving. al, "Serve a meal inspired by Alabama’s 200-year history," 20 Aug. 2019 Spicy tuna bruschetta is a nice appetizer mashup, and the watermelon and feta salad, bolstered by red onion, grape tomatoes and torn basil, is a refreshing starter. Phil Vettel, chicagotribune.com, "Two pizzerias making a splash along the Chicago River — one with Phil Vettel’s favorite pizza crust in town," 15 Aug. 2019 Add optional filling ingredients like fresh basil or toasted pine nuts. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, "Squash blossoms, stuffed with cheese and fit to be fried," 31 July 2019 Guests dined on tomato basil soup, roast beef sandwiches and blueberry pie — an homage to the Three Course Dinner Chewing Gum that was character Violet Beauregarde’s downfall. Sara Cardine, La Cañada Valley Sun, "La Cañada officials recreate world of Wonka in city-sponsored mixer," 19 July 2019 The garden is in a sunny room on the 12th floor of the 16th & Market Affordable Workforce Apartments, where basil and lettuce has been growing from white plastic tubes filled with water for the past few months. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Jobs program growing with hydroponics at Father Joe’s," 27 Aug. 2019 Carnochan harvested Swiss chard, okra, basil and other items one recent morning. Cortlynn Stark, Washington Post, "School gardens thrive with summer volunteer program," 25 Aug. 2019 Moving among rows of aeroponic growing towers the pickers plucked leafy greens, herbs and edible flowers like Genovese basil and red Russian kale, washed them and packed them in coolers. Joe Rubino, The Denver Post, "Denver urban farming trend grows from a Sloan’s Lake condo tower to a Larimer Square parking garage," 4 Aug. 2019 This summer bolognese combines cherry tomatoes, chiles, basil, and just enough meat for a weeknight-friendly take on the classic Italian ragù. Aliza Abarbanel, Bon Appétit, "This Summer Bolognese Is Fresher, Faster, and Just as Good as the Classic," 30 July 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

14 Sep 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

formidable, illustrious, or eminent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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!