mis·​tle·​toe | \ˈmi-səl-ˌtō, chiefly British ˈmi-zəl-\

Definition of mistletoe 

: a European semiparasitic green shrub (Viscum album of the family Loranthaceae, the mistletoe family) with thick leaves, small yellowish flowers, and waxy-white glutinous berries broadly : any of various plants of the mistletoe family (as of an American genus Phoradendron) resembling the true mistletoe

Illustration of mistletoe

Illustration of mistletoe

Examples of mistletoe in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Now, two independent groups reveal how evolution has severely messed with the production line in European mistletoe, the holiday adornment best known as an excuse for surprise smooches. Roni Dengler, Science | AAAS, "Mistletoe is missing the machinery to make energy," 3 May 2018 Hanging from trees rather than doorways, the mistletoe can make ATP by breaking down sugar pilfered from their hosts. Roni Dengler, Science | AAAS, "Mistletoe is missing the machinery to make energy," 3 May 2018 Holiday Stickers + Candy Cane Brush For a limited time, Instagram is also adding a few holiday-themed stickers to this new feature, including snowmen, ugly sweaters, and some mistletoe. Lyndsey Matthews, Marie Claire, "Instagram Just Announced Another Major Update That'll Make Your Stories So Much Better," 20 Dec. 2016 While crystal iceplant extract delivers your daily dose of moisture, mistletoe extract — yes, mistletoe — reduces redness and is rich in antioxidants, leaving the skin feeling and looking balanced, soothed, and shine-free. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "The Best Pressed Face Serums to Add to Your Skin-Care Routine," 26 Jan. 2018 Ancient cultures believed mistletoe could cure many ailments, according to History.com. Atlanta Life, ajc, "6 things you may not know about Christmas," 10 Nov. 2017 Sipping mulled wine and contemplating a sprig of mistletoe? Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "The 9 Best Red Lipsticks of All Time for Christmas and Beyond," 25 Dec. 2017 Our current use of mistletoe is no clearer picture either. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "Good thing the mistletoe is hung where you can see – it's poisonous," 15 Dec. 2017 Poinsettias, mistletoes, holly and other ornamental plants can also cause stomach upset when chewed or ingested by pets. Jennifer Larino, NOLA.com, "8 tips for keeping pets safe and happy this holiday season," 21 Dec. 2017

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mistletoe

Middle English mistilto, from Old English misteltān, from mistel mistletoe + tān twig; akin to Old High German & Old Saxon mistil mistletoe and to Old High German zein twig

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The first known use of mistletoe was before the 12th century

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English Language Learners Definition of mistletoe

: a plant with yellowish flowers and white berries that is traditionally used as a Christmas decoration


mis·​tle·​toe | \ˈmi-səl-ˌtō \

Kids Definition of mistletoe

: a plant with waxy white berries that grows on the branches and trunks of trees


mis·​tle·​toe | \ˈmis-əl-ˌtō, chiefly British ˈmiz-\

Medical Definition of mistletoe 

: any of various parasitic or semiparasitic plants (family Loranthaceae, the mistletoe family) that have thick leathery mostly opposite and sometimes scaly leaves and include some formerly used in preparations with oxytocic, antispasmodic, or heart-stimulating properties: as

a : a European semiparasitic green shrub (Viscum album) having somewhat poisonous leaves, stems, and waxy-white glutinous berries that have been used in folk medicine

b : any of various American plants (genus Phoradendron and especially P. serotinum synonym P. flavescens) resembling the true mistletoe of Europe

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