li·​lac ˈlī-ˌläk How to pronounce lilac (audio) -ˌlak 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

Examples of lilac in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the snap, Porizkova carried a bouquet of lilacs and a few shopping bags while wearing a breezy, cherry red midi dress, with a waist-cinching belt, a preppy collared neckline, and puffed short sleeves. Averi Baudler, Peoplemag, 12 May 2024 But all the coconut oil in the world could not suspend a fresh lilac in its mid-May state of florescence. Lily Stewart, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 May 2024 Correspondent Conor Knighton talks with artists who create pristine peonies and pansies, life-like lilacs, and ridiculously large roses, using little more than paper, paint and glue. David Morgan, CBS News, 10 May 2024 Guests were welcomed with bouquets of tulips, roses, lilacs; this was one of the rare NYC parties where the florals were both the merch and the decor. Vogue, 4 May 2024 California lilacs have put on the most spectacular show this year. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Apr. 2024 This spring, expect whites, reds, and shades of soft pastels (think lilacs, yellows, and sky blues) to bring a fresh feel to outdoor spaces. Cori Sears, Better Homes & Gardens, 4 Apr. 2024 Come spring, the grounds burst with color, namely the 200-plus cherry blossom trees that bloom in April, and the lilacs, bluebells, and peonies springing to life throughout May. Nicole Kliest, Vogue, 21 Mar. 2024 Bed linens sailing the wind, curtains flaring beyond the windscreens, lilacs soon to lie on the ground. Carolyn Forché, The Atlantic, 24 Mar. 2024

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

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 21 May. 2024.

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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