dig·​i·​tal·​is | \ ˌdi-jə-ˈta-ləs How to pronounce digitalis (audio) also -ˈtā- How to pronounce digitalis (audio) \

Definition of digitalis

1 : foxglove
2 : 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, "The epic history of the humble goldfish," 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,, "Cannabis isn’t the only game in town — medicinal plants that cure headaches and fight cancer can be found in Chicago’s oldest medicinal garden," 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, "Green Thoughts," 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, "Is Fat Killing You, or Is Sugar?," 24 Mar. 2017

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

1629, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for digitalis

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

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Time Traveler for digitalis

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The first known use of digitalis was in 1629

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Cite this Entry

“Digitalis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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dig·​i·​tal·​is | \ -əs How to pronounce digitalis (audio) \

Medical Definition of digitalis

1a 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
b : foxglove
2 : 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)

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