- any of a genus (Hamamelis) of small North American and Asian trees and shrubs of the witch hazel family; esp., a tall shrub (H. virginiana) of E North America, having yellow, wavy-petaled flowers in late autumn and woody fruit
- a lotion consisting of an alcoholic solution of an extract from the leaves and bark of this shrub, used on bruises, inflammations, etc.
- designating a family (Hamamelidaceae, order Hamamelidales) of dicotyledonous trees and shrubs of temperate regions, having flowers in heads or spikes, including the liquidambars
Origin of witch hazelaltered (infl. by witch) from wyche hazel from Middle English wyche from Old English wice, applied to trees with pliant branches, akin to Old Norse veikr, weak