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 Tristan is trying to get Quiet David to admit the donkey ate mistletoe, which takes a very, very long time. Alice Burton, Vulture, "All Creatures Great and Small Season-Finale Recap: Farewell to Our Yorkshire Friends," 21 Feb. 2021 But despite the festive setting, the show's season finale is about more than mistletoe and eggnog; the episode follows Helen on the eve of her wedding to Hugh, when doubts begin to set in. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "The Stars of All Creatures Great and Small Weigh In on the Show's Dramatic Season Finale," 22 Feb. 2021 Housing activity usually wanes during the holidays as folks spend more time baking turkey and hanging mistletoe instead of house hunting. Steve Brown, Dallas News, "D-FW’s record home market has momentum heading into 2021," 24 Dec. 2020 The disappearance of mistletoe, sapsucker damage and other pests always grabs their attention. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, "Digging into the details on exposing a tree’s root flares," 1 Feb. 2021 Roughly 90 bird species are considered mistletoe specialists. Rachel Ehrenberg, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Biology of Mistletoe," 23 Dec. 2020 The start of the tradition is up for debate, but many ancient cultures believed mistletoe to have healing properties—from potentially protecting against poisons to restoring fertility. Kelly Allen, House Beautiful, "15 Christmas Trivia Questions to Test Your Relatives With This Year," 22 Dec. 2020 The date, the bright lights, the wreaths, the mistletoe, Santa Claus — all derive from pagan traditions. Steve Chapman, chicagotribune.com, "Column: How America shaped Christmas, and how Christmas shapes us," 23 Dec. 2020 Word on the street is mistletoe purchases are down this year. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Senior care facilities, kids and the pandemic, Twin Metals, Line 3, mistletoe," 22 Dec. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about mistletoe

Time Traveler for mistletoe

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for mistletoe

Last Updated

2 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mistletoe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mistletoe. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for mistletoe



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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on mistletoe

Nglish: Translation of mistletoe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mistletoe for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about mistletoe

Comments on mistletoe

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


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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