- A plant whose stem does not produce woody, persistent tissue and generally dies back at the end of each growing season.
- Any of various often aromatic plants used especially in medicine or as seasoning.
- Slang Marijuana.
Origin: Middle English herbe
Origin: , from Old French erbe
Origin: , from Latin herba
Related Forms:Usage Note:
The word herb,
which can be pronounced with or without the (h), is one of a number of words borrowed into English from French. The (h) sound had been lost in Latin and was not pronounced in French or the other Romance languages, which are descended from Latin, although it was retained in the spelling of some words. In both Old and Middle English, however, h
was generally pronounced, as in the native English words happy
Through the influence of spelling, then, the h
came to be pronounced in most words borrowed from French, such as haste
In a few other words borrowed from French the h
has remained silent, as in honor, honest, hour,
And in another small group of French loan words, including herb, humble, human,
may or may not be pronounced depending on the dialect of English. In British English, herb
and its derivatives, such as herbaceous, herbal, herbicide,
are pronounced with h.
In American English, herb
are more often pronounced without the h,
while the opposite is true of herbaceous, herbicide,
which are more often pronounced with the h.