li·​lac ˈlī-ˌläk How to pronounce lilac (audio)
-lək How to pronounce lilac (audio)
: a widely cultivated European shrub (Syringa vulgaris) of the olive family that has cordate ovate leaves and large panicles of fragrant pinkish-purple or white flowers
: a tree or shrub congeneric with the lilac
: a variable color averaging a moderate purple

Illustration of lilac

Illustration of lilac
  • lilac 1a

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web So too was the fashion, particularly the lustrous lilac slip dress worn by Margot, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Danielle Directo-meston, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Dec. 2022 Amid the lilac shrubs, pungent with pollen, marks of the Rattlesnake Grow aren’t immediately obvious. Jeff Wheelwright, Discover Magazine, 6 Aug. 2017 The Disney100 line revolves around a lilac and silver color motif. Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel, 11 Jan. 2023 The Catwoman star debuted the look on Instagram in November after going bright lilac with her curly locks over the summer. Michelle Lee, Peoplemag, 6 Jan. 2023 Pairing a lilac and yellow harlequin cardigan and coordinating miniskirt from Versace with Jeffrey Campbell boots, Ziwe masters the art of high-low styles. Madeline Fass, Vogue, 15 Nov. 2022 The lilac touches on this pair soften the effect of the otherwise chunky silhouette that nods to '80s and '90s-style basketball shoes. Laura Lajiness Kaupke, Harper's BAZAAR, 20 Dec. 2022 Styled by Rebecca Corbin-Murray, Ashley wore a glittering lilac gown and matching hood from 16Arlington's spring-summer 2023 collection, Lucite heels, and a Chopard collar. Hanna Lustig, Glamour, 6 Dec. 2022 For one of her more formal looks, the Queen selected a lilac, embroidered gown with a matching purple sash and delicate tiara. The Editors, Town & Country, 16 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History


obsolete French (now lilas), from Arabic līlak, from Persian nīlak bluish, from nīl blue, from Sanskrit nīla dark blue

First Known Use

1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of lilac was in 1625

Dictionary Entries Near lilac

Cite this Entry

“Lilac.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


li·​lac ˈlī-lək How to pronounce lilac (audio) -ˌlak How to pronounce lilac (audio)
: any of a genus of shrubs and trees related to the olive
especially : a European shrub widely grown for its showy clusters of fragrant pink, purple, or white flowers
: a medium purple

More from Merriam-Webster on lilac

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