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See also: Gentian


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Gentiana brachyphylla, a gentian.
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Via Middle English from Latin gentia, which, according to Pliny, was named after Gentius, the last king of Illyria, who supposedly discovered the plant's medicinal benefits. This has been dismissed as folk etymology but the word may still ultimately be of Illyrian origin, as -an is a common suffix in Illyrian words.[1]


gentian (plural gentians)

  1. Any of various herbs of the family Gentianaceae found in temperate and mountainous regions with violet or blue flowers.
    • 1956, Delano Ames, Crime out of Mind,[1], chapter 1:
      On the cover of the leaflet advertising the Alpenrose Gasthof in Zirl am Gurgl [] there is a decorative picture of a young woman. [] She has bright flaxen hair and laughing eyes of the same hue as the gentians in the meadow beyond the inn.
  2. The dried roots and rhizome of a European gentian, Gentiana lutea, used as a tonic.

Derived terms[edit]


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  1. ^ Fowler, H.W., A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Oxford Univ. Press, 1926.