er·​i·​ca | \ ˈer-i-kə How to pronounce erica (audio) \

Definition of erica

: any of a large genus (Erica) of evergreen chiefly African plants of the heath family ranging from low shrubs to small trees

First Known Use of erica

1826, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for erica

borrowed from New Latin, going back to Latin erīcē, erīca "the heath plant Erica arborea or a related species," borrowed from Greek ereíkē, of uncertain origin

Note: Assuming that Greek ereíkē goes back to *wereikā, it must bear some relationship to a group of words attested in Celtic and Balto-Slavic: Old Irish froich "heather, low scrub on moorland," Welsh grug "heather, the heath plant Calluna vulgaris," Gaulish *wroik- in the divine name Matres Uroicae, all going back to Celtic *u̯roi̯k- "heather"; Russian véresk, véres "heather," Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian vrȉjes, Polish wrzos (< Slavic *vêrsŭ); Lithuanian vìržis "heather," Latvian vir̂zis, vìrsis (for further attested forms see R. Derksen, Etymological Dictionary of the Baltic Inherited Lexicon, Brill, 2015). Given the differences in vocalism and the uncertain nature of the final stop, it is not possible to reconstruct a common etymon, and it has been suggested that the words were borrowed, perhaps independently, from a non-Indo-European source. See also briar entry 2.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About erica

Dictionary Entries Near erica




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for erica

Last Updated

4 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Erica.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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