he·​lio·​trope ˈhē-lē-ə-ˌtrōp How to pronounce heliotrope (audio)
 British also  ˈhel-yə-
: any of a genus (Heliotropium) of herbs or shrubs of the borage family compare garden heliotrope
: a variable color averaging a moderate to reddish purple

Illustration of heliotrope

Illustration of heliotrope
  • heliotrope 1

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 Plus, the warm, genderless scent is not only easy to layer, but its blend of bergamot, heliotrope, coconut milk captures the essence of salty beach air beautifully. Tiffany Dodson, Harper's BAZAAR, 6 July 2023 With each new episode, a rewatch of the pilot brings more clues into focus (Jackie’s heart necklace; Nat wearing heliotrope; Shauna’s foreshadowed pregnancy; and Lottie’s real name being Charlotte, labeled on a prescription pill bottle). Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 May 2023 The rich, fruity top note gives way to a heart of rich florals such as heliotrope and and tuberose, and dries down to a creamy sandalwood. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, 1 Apr. 2023 Notes of bergamot, rose, myrrh, and vanilla melt away any stress with their aroma therapy qualities, finished with patchouli, heliotrope, and hedione, still bright enough to grab attention. Cassell Ferere, Forbes, 6 Feb. 2023 This coconut soy wax blend's has notes of honey and hay as well as heliotrope. Monique Valeris, Good Housekeeping, 20 Dec. 2022 Balancing its foodie elements—cocoa absolute, honey comb, and lemon sugar—with heliotrope puts a new twist on a familiar treat. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, 19 Apr. 2022 The center of clan life is a flowering heliotrope tree by the ocean. New York Times, 16 Nov. 2021 Moncler Pour Femme conjures mountain magic with Italian bergamot, jasmine sambac, heliotrope, vanillin and Moncler’s exclusive Mountain Woods accord. Celia Shatzman, Forbes, 21 Oct. 2021 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of heliotrope was in 1605

Dictionary Entries Near heliotrope

Cite this Entry

“Heliotrope.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heliotrope. Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


he·​lio·​trope ˈhē-lē-ə-ˌtrōp How to pronounce heliotrope (audio)
: any of a genus of herbs or shrubs having small white or purple flowers

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