he·​lio·​trope | \ ˈhē-lē-ə-ˌtrōp How to pronounce heliotrope (audio) , ˈhēl-yə-, British also ˈhel-yə- \

Definition of heliotrope

1 : any of a genus (Heliotropium) of herbs or shrubs of the borage family — compare garden heliotrope
3 : a variable color averaging a moderate to reddish purple

Illustration of heliotrope

Illustration of heliotrope

heliotrope 1

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Did You Know?

Helios was the god of the sun in Greek mythology, and helio- came to appear in a number of sun-related English words. The genus known as the heliotropes consists of about 250 species; many are thought of as weeds, but the best-known species, garden heliotrope, is a popular and fragrant perennial that resembles the forget-me-not. The heliotrope tends to follow the sun—that is, turn its blossoms toward the sun as it travels from East to West every day. But the fact is, heliotropism—turning toward the sun—is common among flowers (and even leaves), and some, like the sunflower, are more dramatically heliotropic than the heliotrope. Those in the far North actually use their petals to reflect the sun's heat onto the flower's central ovary during the short growing season.

Examples of heliotrope in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Once the palms are mostly gone, crews will plant native trees, especially the giant Pisonia and the tree heliotrope. Kenneth R. Weiss, Science | AAAS, "To save this palm-filled paradise, biologists must kill the trees," 27 Aug. 2020 There were the sharp red spiky ones (chuparosas) and the tiny snowflake-looking ones (rock daisies), the stunning lavender ones (wild heliotrope) and the optimistic yellow ones (checker fiddlenecks). Danielle Pergament, New York Times, "‘Do Not Touch the Flowers!’ One Family’s Eco-Adventure in the American Southwest," 16 Mar. 2020 Another method of propagating heliotrope is cuttings. oregonlive, "Is this plant actually a tayberry? Ask an expert," 29 Nov. 2019 Each of these robotic heliotropes are at the beck and call of an algorithmic conductor, which directs them to focus their sunbeams toward a small target on the tower. Wired, "A Solar 'Breakthrough' Won't Solve Cement's Carbon Problem," 22 Nov. 2019 Beneath the fancy exterior is a combination of powdery florals, like pink peppercorn, heliotrope, and balsam. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "Why Tom Ford's Métallique Fragrance Is Worth It," 28 Aug. 2019 The Hotel Charleston Cartagena was once a convent; today the refectory table at the entry holds a gigantic arrangement of heliotropes and birds-of-paradise. Maureen Orth, Town & Country, "Inside Cartagena," 11 Jan. 2013 For a brief moment, the fragrances of blackcurrant, tuberose, heliotrope and iris mingled with the smoky notes of Indonesian wood or Greek figs would wash over me. Aleksandra Crapanzano, WSJ, "The Untold Story Behind Paris’s Most Charming Boutique," 21 June 2018 The London candle is reminiscent of the Columbia Road flower market, with notes of tropical heliotrope, lilac, juniper, and sweet-smelling hyacinth with a hint of spice, which feels like an homage to the city’s diverse culture. Shannon Barbour, The Cut, "You Can Buy These Exclusive Diptyque Candles for 4 Days Only," 6 Apr. 2018

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

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for heliotrope

Latin heliotropium, from Greek hēliotropion, from hēlio- heli- entry 1 + tropos turn; from its flowers' turning toward the sun — more at trope

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Time Traveler for heliotrope

Time Traveler

The first known use of heliotrope was in 1605

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Cite this Entry

“Heliotrope.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heliotrope. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on heliotrope

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about heliotrope

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