dig·​i·​tal·​is ˌdi-jə-ˈta-ləs How to pronounce digitalis (audio)
-ˈtā- How to pronounce digitalis (audio)
: the dried powdered leaf of the common foxglove that contains glycosides which act on the heart and that is a powerful cardiotonic serving especially to increase the force of myocardial contraction
broadly : any of various cardiac glycosides (such as digitalin or digoxin) that are constituents of digitalis or are derived from a related foxglove (Digitalis lanata)

Examples of digitalis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the 19th century, for example, they were used to study digitalis dosing. National Geographic, 9 Oct. 2019 Though most digitalis plants found in U.S. gardens may not contain enough of the chemical to be lethal, Soejarto says don’t self-medicate with this plant. Cindy Dampier,, 25 July 2019 Fascinating bits of history are included throughout, including the suggestion that one such drug—digitalis, or foxglove, formerly used to treat epilepsy—may have caused a yellowing of vision in Van Gogh, affecting the colors in his paintings. Barbara Paul Robinson, WSJ, 11 Apr. 2018 Weight-loss regimens included consuming soap, chalk, pickles, digitalis, camphor tea, grapefruit (which was thought to contain fat-dissolving enzymes), potassium acetate (a diuretic), and ipecac (which induces vomiting). Jerome Groopman, The New Yorker, 24 Mar. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'digitalis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin, genus name, from Latin, of a finger, from digitus; from its finger-shaped corolla

First Known Use

1629, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of digitalis was in 1629

Dictionary Entries Near digitalis

Cite this Entry

“Digitalis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


dig·​i·​tal·​is ˌdij-ə-ˈtal-əs How to pronounce digitalis (audio)
 also  -ˈtāl-
: a powerful drug used to stimulate the heart and prepared from the dried leaves of the common foxglove

Medical Definition


dig·​i·​tal·​is -əs How to pronounce digitalis (audio)
capitalized : a genus of Eurasian herbs of the snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae) that have alternate leaves and racemes of showy bell-shaped flowers and comprise the foxgloves
: the dried leaf of the common European foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) that contains physiologically active glycosides, that is a powerful cardiotonic acting to increase the force of myocardial contraction, to slow the conduction rate of nerve impulses through the atrioventricular node, and to promote diuresis, and that is used in standardized powdered form especially in the treatment of congestive heart failure and in the management of atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, and paroxysmal tachycardia of the atria
broadly : any of various glycosides (as digoxin or digitoxin) that are constituents of digitalis or are derived from a related foxglove (D. lanata)

More from Merriam-Webster on digitalis

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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