li·​lac ˈlī-ˌläk How to pronounce lilac (audio)
-lək How to pronounce lilac (audio)
: a widely cultivated European shrub (Syringa vulgaris) of the olive family that has cordate ovate leaves and large panicles of fragrant pinkish-purple or white flowers
: a tree or shrub congeneric with the lilac
: a variable color averaging a moderate purple

Illustration of lilac

Illustration of lilac
  • lilac 1a

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web However, the house is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the iconic carryall with a re-issue so why not add a little glitz with a lilac beaded piece inspired by the Fall/Winter 1997-1998 collection to her closet? Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, 15 Nov. 2022 Jenner wore head-to-toe lilac in a custom Versace see-through, mermaid-esque dress, fur stole and a perfectly purple wig. Angela Andaloro, Peoplemag, 15 Sep. 2022 On September 6, 2022, Kourtney Kardashian posted this lilac purple and bubblegum teaser for her new venture. Abby Dupes, Seventeen, 7 Sep. 2022 Ditto the dressing room upstairs, done in a shade of lilac. ELLE Decor, 19 Sep. 2022 This particular starter set comes with one refill of the brand's Aqua Waves scent, which contains an aromatic blend of florals like jasmine, lilac, hyacinth, iris, and osmanthus that are paired with crisp water and fruity mandarin. Jennifer Hussein, Allure, 13 Oct. 2022 Officials said the insects prefer to munch on grape, birch, black walnut, hops, lilac, maple, rose, willow, tree of heaven, and staghorn sumac. Globe Staff,, 21 Sep. 2022 Lilac trees like the Peking and Japanese tree lilac can reach heights of more than 30 feet tall. Jenny Krane, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 Sep. 2022 But not this one from Gorilla Grip, which comes in fun opaque and translucent colors like royal blue, lilac, and mint green. Kathleen Willcox, Popular Mechanics, 12 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lilac.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


obsolete French (now lilas), from Arabic līlak, from Persian nīlak bluish, from nīl blue, from Sanskrit nīla dark blue

First Known Use

1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of lilac was in 1625

Dictionary Entries Near lilac

Cite this Entry

“Lilac.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



li·​lac ˈlī-lək How to pronounce lilac (audio) -ˌlak How to pronounce lilac (audio)
: any of a genus of shrubs and trees related to the olive
especially : a European shrub widely grown for its showy clusters of fragrant pink, purple, or white flowers
: a medium purple

More from Merriam-Webster on lilac

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