hellebore definition by Webster's New World
- any of a genus (Helleborus) of poisonous, winter-blooming plants of the buttercup family, with buttercuplike flowers of various colors: the rhizomes of a black European species (H. niger) were formerly used as a heart stimulant and cathartic
- any of a genus (Veratrum) of poisonous plants of the lily family: the (V. album) and the (V. viride) were formerly used as cathartics, etc.
Origin: altered (after Gr) ; from Middle English ellebore ; from Old French ; from Classical Latin helleborus ; from Classical Greek helleboros, origin, originally probably “plant eaten by fawns” ; from hellos, variant, variety of ellos, fawn ; from base of elaphos, deer plush bora, food (of beasts): for Indo-European base see elk and amp; voracious
hellebore definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- Any of various plants of the genus Helleborus, native to Eurasia, most species of which are poisonous.
- Any of various plants of the genus Veratrum, especially V. viride of North America, having large leaves and greenish flowers and yielding a toxic alkaloid used medicinally.
Origin: Middle English ellebre, from Old French, from Latin elleborus, from Greek helleboros : perhaps hellos, fawn + -boros, eaten (from bibrōskein, to eat).