witch hazel

noun witch ha·zel \ ˈwich-ˌhā-zəl \
Updated on: 17 Nov 2017

Definition of witch hazel

1 : any of a genus (Hamamelis of the family Hamamelidaceae, the witch-hazel family) of shrubs or small trees with slender-petaled usually yellow flowers borne in late fall or early spring; especially : one (H. virginiana) of eastern North America that blooms in the fall
2 : an alcoholic solution of a distillate of the bark of a witch hazel (H. virginiana) used as a soothing and mildly astringent lotion

Recent Examples of witch hazel from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'witch hazel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of witch hazel

witch, a tree with pliant branches, from Middle English wyche, from Old English wice; probably akin to Old English wīcan to yield — more at weak


WITCH HAZEL Defined for English Language Learners

witch hazel

noun

Definition of witch hazel for English Language Learners

  • : a lotion that is made from the bark of a plant and that is used to heal the skin


WITCH HAZEL Defined for Kids

witch hazel

noun witch ha·zel \ ˈwich-ˌhā-zəl \

Definition of witch hazel for Students

1 : a shrub with small yellow flowers in late fall or early spring
2 : a soothing alcoholic lotion made from the bark of the witch hazel

History for witch hazel

The witch in witch hazel has nothing to do with sorcery, but is rather a now uncommon word meaning “shrub with pliable branches.” It goes back to Old English wice, which may be related to modern English weak. As for the better-known witch meaning “sorceress,” it goes back to Old English wicce, a counterpart to the masculine noun wicca, “sorcerer.”


Medical Dictionary

witch hazel

noun witch ha·zel \ ˈwich-ˌhā-zəl \

medical Definition of witch hazel

1 : any small tree or shrub of the genus Hamamelis; especially : one (Hamamelis virginiana) of eastern North America that blooms in the fall
2 : an alcoholic solution of a distillate of the bark of a witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) used as a soothing and mildly astringent lotion

Learn More about witch hazel


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

food, provisions, or a tasty dish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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