mis·​tle·​toe | \ ˈmi-səl-ˌtō How to pronounce mistletoe (audio) , 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

Consider humanity’s endless flirtation with vampires, leeches, even mistletoe. New York Times, "The Flower That Must Not Be Named," 13 June 2018 Popular varieties like daffodil, iris, lily-of-the-valley, ivy, and even mistletoe are poisonous when consumed, according to the National Capital Poison Center. Beth Anne Macaluso, Redbook, "16 Common Household Items That Could Kill You," 9 Aug. 2017 For example, mistletoe berries can kill an animal with just one or two bites, lilies can cause kidney failure and excess urination, and holly will have your pet with symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "These Are The Most Pet-Friendly Plants For Your Home," 6 Mar. 2019 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. 2018 But the whole idea of kissing under the mistletoe started before any of that. Adam Schubak, Country Living, "Here's How Kissing Under the Mistletoe Became a Christmas Tradition," 29 Nov. 2018 From high-heeled platform shoes that warm freezing feet, to ruffled neo-Victorian blouses for lurking under the mistletoe, to minis, trenches, slides, and scrunchies, a pop of plaid can take the chill off gray days. Madeline Fass, Vogue, "How to Make Plaid Look Rad This Season," 25 Dec. 2018 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

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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Statistics for mistletoe

Last Updated

7 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for mistletoe

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 How to pronounce mistletoe (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on mistletoe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mistletoe

Spanish Central: Translation of mistletoe

Nglish: Translation of mistletoe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mistletoe for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about mistletoe

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