noun (1)
col·​um·​bine | \ ˈkä-ləm-ˌbīn How to pronounce columbine (audio) \

Definition of columbine

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: any of a genus (Aquilegia) of plants of the buttercup family with irregular showy spurred flowers: such as
a : a red-flowered plant (A. canadensis) of eastern North America
b : a blue-flowered plant (A. caerulea) of the Rocky Mountains


noun (2)
Col·​um·​bine | \ ˈkä-ləm-ˌbīn How to pronounce Columbine (audio) , -ˌbēn \

Definition of Columbine (Entry 2 of 2)

: the saucy sweetheart of Harlequin in comedy and pantomime

Illustration of columbine

Illustration of columbine

Noun (1)

columbine a

In the meaning defined above

Examples of columbine in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This group primarily includes hollyhock, delphinium, columbine and foxglove. Dan Gill,, "What's right for your garden? Learn about 4 groups of fall flowers, when to plant them and when they bloom," 25 Nov. 2020 The McHenrys’ own home garden has grown steadily over the past decade to include a wide array of pollinator and ornamental plants, including lavender, yarrow, fleece-flower, thistle, baptisia, lilies, geraniums and columbine. Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune, "Minneapolis family's garden offers a musical respite during a difficult summer," 16 Oct. 2020 The Native Demonstration Garden blooms with showy flowers, such as Desert Four O’Clock, Rocky Mountain Penstemon, and yellow columbine, which will give you practical ideas for your own native plant garden. Jeanine Barone, The Know, "9 lesser-known public gardens in Colorado that are worth a visit," 23 Feb. 2020 Try ferns, clover, the emerging baby leaves of columbine, even cut up some chives. oregonlive, "DIY Easter eggs: Don’t have a dye kit? You can make bold colors with produce and pantry staples," 8 Apr. 2020 For the latter, check out things like bee balms, columbines, lupines, foxgloves, hollyhocks, cleomes, impatiens and petunias. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, "Answering reader questions: When nonnative plants are OK, how to attract hummingbirds," 20 Feb. 2020 Or try native woodland wildflowers such as perennial lobelia, mayapple, columbine, thalictrum, amsonia, blood root, Solomon seal, and phlox. Real Estate, "Ask the Gardener: Tips for ridding your lawn of creeping Charlie," 21 Aug. 2019 An understory of spreading dogbane, yellow columbine, Richardson’s geranium, curly dock, wild roses and fragrant wild geranium grow profusely in damp slivers of space among roots, boulders and gigantic trees. Mare Czinar, azcentral, "This Flagstaff mountain hike surrounds you with summer wildflowers," 18 July 2019 The Pollinator Habitat Expansion Initiative involves mowing less and planting varieties of milkweed, clover, ironweed, wingstem, columbine, joe pye weed and two-leaved toothwort. USA TODAY, "Penal farm to produce farm, music under the sea: News from around our 50 states," 16 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'columbine.' 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 columbine

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1719, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for columbine

Noun (1)

Middle English columbyne, calombin, calobyn, borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French columbine, borrowed from Medieval Latin columbīna (perhaps originally as modifying herba "small plant, herb"), noun derivative from feminine of Latin columbīnus "of a dove or pigeon, dove-colored," from columba "dove, pigeon" + -īnus -ine entry 1; columba akin to Old Church Slavic golǫbĭ "dove, pigeon," Russian gólubʼ, Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian gȍlūb, Greek kólymbos, kolymbás, kolymbís "the little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)," all perhaps of substratal origin

Note: The name columbīna supposedly alludes to the five petals of the inverted flower of Aquilegia vulgaris, said to resemble five doves clustered together; this has the look of an after-the-fact explanation, however. — The interrelationship of the Latin, Greek and Slavic words is a perhaps insoluble puzzle. It has been assumed that the initial col-/gol- of the Latin and Slavic words describes a color, presumably a shade of blue, and that -b- continues an Indo-European suffix *-bho- of color and animal names. W.B. Lockwood ("Latin columba, palumbēs, Greek κόλυμβος," Historische Sprachforschung, Band 103 [1990], pp. 261-63) compares Greek ellós, hellós "young deer, fawn" (from *elnós) beside élaphos "red deer (Cervus elaphus)," but as the base here is probably an original n-stem *h1el-en- with evidence in a number of other Indo-European languages (see elk), the internal vowel-nasal sequence in columba and golǫbĭ is not really accounted for. The Slavic words have been compared with Lithuanian gelumbė̃̃ "rather thick machine-made woolen fabric" (originally dove-colored, i.e., blue or blue-gray?) and less likely with gul̃bė "swan," though these hardly illuminate. (Old Prussian golimban "blue" may be a loan from Slavic.) Lockwood (op. cit.) rejects the relevance of Greek kólymbos on the grounds that names for the grebe in languages generally are based on their diving habits, not on color words. The resemblance of kólymbos to the Latin and Slavic words is nevertheless inescapable, and the presence of -b- rather -ph- in the putative suffix would rule out any connection with Indo-European *-bho-. R. Beekes (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009), based on the variants kolýmbaina/kolýbdaina as the name for a kind of crab, believes the word is of pre-Greek substratal origin. If, pace Lockwood, kólybos is of any relevance to columba and golǫbĭ, a European substratum might be behind all three.

Noun (2)

Italian Colombina

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The first known use of columbine was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Columbine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for columbine



English Language Learners Definition of columbine

: a plant that has flowers with five petals that are thin and pointed


col·​um·​bine | \ ˈkä-ləm-ˌbīn How to pronounce columbine (audio) \

Kids Definition of columbine

: a plant that has leaves with three parts and showy flowers usually with five petals that are thin and pointed

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