- any of various evergreen plants (genera Phoradendron and Viscum) of the mistletoe family, parasitic on deciduous or evergreen trees, with small, yellowish-green leaves, yellowish flowers, and shiny, white, poisonous berries
- a sprig of such a plant, hung as a Christmas decoration: by custom, people kiss when standing under it
Origin of mistletoeOld English misteltan (akin to Old Norse mistilteinn) from mistel, mistletoe (prob. from Germanic an unverified form mista, dung: from being propagated by seeds in bird dung) + tan, a twig
- Any of various hemiparasitic plants of the order Santalales that grow on the branches of other plants, especially Viscum album of Eurasia and Phoradendron leucarpum of North America, both of which have leathery evergreen leaves and waxy white berries. Extracts of the Eurasian species are sometimes used for medicinal purposes.
- A sprig of mistletoe, often used as a Christmas decoration.
Origin of mistletoeMiddle English mistelto back-formation from Old English misteltān ( tān ) ( taken for pl. of tā toe ) mistel mistletoe ; see meigh- in Indo-European roots. tān twig
The term mistletoe is used for both Viscum album (European mistletoe) and Phoradendron leucarpum (eastern mistletoe).
Old English misteltÄn, from mistel "˜mistletoe' + tÄn "˜twig'. Compare mistle.