- any of a genus (Hamamelis) of small North American and Asiatic 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
- Any of several deciduous shrubs or small trees of the genus Hamamelis, especially H. virginiana of eastern North America, which has delicate yellow flowers that bloom in late autumn or winter.
- An alcoholic solution containing an extract of the bark and leaves of this plant, applied externally as a mild astringent.
Origin of witch hazelAlteration of obsolete wych, wych elm; see wych elm + hazel.
(countable and uncountable, plural witch hazels)
See Middle English wiche, Old English wice (“pliant, bendable, weak")
- Alternative spelling of witch hazel.