li·​lac | \ ˈlī-ˌläk How to pronounce lilac (audio) , -ˌlak, -lək How to pronounce lilac (audio) \

Definition of lilac

1a : 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
b : a tree or shrub congeneric with the lilac
2 : 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

The formula is packed with purple rice bran, which does way more than lend the contents a charming lilac hue. Glamour, "This Moisturizer Instantly Gives Me Dewy Dumpling Skin," 11 Mar. 2019 And my English great-grandmother had a bedroom that was all lilac floral chintz. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "A New York Pied-à-terre Filled with Rich Colors, Layered Patterns and Upholstered Surfaces," 19 Oct. 2018 Go with yellow, lilacs, or red hues and add a finishing touch with a bandana or scarf. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "These Coachella Outfit Ideas Are So Good, You'll Be Watching the Likes Roll In," 7 Mar. 2019 At this year's Academy Awards, Clarke wore a stunning, metallic lilac, strapless gown from Balmain. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Emilia Clarke Just Debuted A New Hair Color on the Oscars Red Carpet," 24 Feb. 2019 Antique gouaches of erupting Vesuvius glowed against a lilac wall; Victorian taxidermy and pastoral dog paintings kept the men company after guests went home. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "Gray Foy, a Master Precisionist Who Presided Over Legendary Salons, Gets a Turn in the Spotlight," 16 Nov. 2018 Middleton arrived in a lilac, A-line Emilia Wickstead dress and a crocodile Aspinal of London handbag with nude pumps. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton and Prince William Shared Laughs and Some Rare PDA at Their Latest Royal Event," 9 Oct. 2018 With a whopping 60% of the votes, her fans spoke, and decided that lilac was the way to go. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Halsey's Lilac Hair Color Was Chosen by Her Fans," 10 Jan. 2019 If millennial pink is the trendiest color right now, lilac isn't far behind. Alyssa Fiorentino, House Beautiful, "Weigh In: Which Paint Colors Are Totally Overrated?," 20 Aug. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of lilac

1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for lilac

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lilac

Dictionary Entries near lilac





lilac daphne


lilac gray

Statistics for lilac

Last Updated

9 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lilac

The first known use of lilac was in 1625

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for lilac



English Language Learners Definition of lilac

: a type of bush with purple or white flowers that bloom in the spring
: a light purple color


li·​lac | \ ˈlī-ˌläk How to pronounce lilac (audio) , -ˌlak, -lək\

Kids Definition of lilac

1 : a bush having clusters of fragrant pink, purple, or white flowers
2 : a medium purple

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on lilac

Spanish Central: Translation of lilac

Nglish: Translation of lilac for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about lilac

Comments on lilac

What made you want to look up lilac? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a secret plot to overthrow a government

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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