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noun (1)

ve·​ron·​i·​ca və-ˈrä-ni-kə How to pronounce veronica (audio)
: any of a genus (Veronica) of annual or perennial herbs of the snapdragon family that have small pink, white, blue or purple flowers with a 4- or 5-lobed calyx, a rotate corolla, two stamens, and the fruit a compressed capsule compare speedwell


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noun (2)

: an image of Christ's face said to have been impressed on the cloth that St. Veronica gave him to wipe his face with on the way to his crucifixion
also : a cloth resembling the legendary one of St. Veronica


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noun (3)

: a pase in bullfighting in which the cape is swung slowly away from the charging bull while the matador keeps his feet in the same position

Word History


Noun (1)

New Latin, genus of herbs

Noun (2)

Middle English, borrowed from Medieval Latin, probably by false etymological parsing (as Late Latin vēra īconica "true image") from the given name Veronica, borrowed from Late Greek Berníkē, Beroníkē, name given in the Gospel of Nicodemus (ca. 4th century) to a woman subject to bleeding who is cured by Jesus (Matthew 9:20-22), in later tradition applied to a woman possessing an image of Jesus's face on a cloth

Note: The names Berníkē, Beroníkē are apparently variants of classical Berenī́kē, borne by various Macedonian queens and princesses of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. The expected Latin adaptation would be Veronīca, but this appears to be contradicted by modern Romance pronunciations of the name, with stress on the antepenult. Presumably stress has been adapted to names such as Dominica formed with the unaccented suffix -icus.

Noun (3)

Spanish verónica, literally, veronica entry 2; from the fancied resemblance of the pase to the manner in which St. Veronica holds the cloth with Jesus's image in traditional representations of the scene

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1527, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

1926, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of veronica was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near veronica

Cite this Entry

“Veronica.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

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