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From mediaeval Latin tormentilla (minor pain), perhaps referring to the conditions that the plant was used to treat.


tormentil (countable and uncountable, plural tormentils)

  1. A low-growing herb (Potentilla erecta, syn. Potentilla tormentilla).
    • 1615, Helkiah Crooke, Mikrokosmographia, London: William Jaggard, “A Dilucidation or Exposition of the Controuersies concerning the Historie of the Infant,” Question 31, p. 340,[1]
      [] the hearbe Tormentill which hath seauen leaues resisteth all poysons.
    • 1788, S. Pallas, “Travels through Siberia and Tartary”, in John Trusler, editor, The Habitable World Described[2], volume 3, London, Part 2, p. 233:
      Instead of tea, they drink an infusion of the roots of the tormentil (Tormentilla erecta), which, when boiled, dyes the water reddish, gives it a very astringent taste, and is drank without milk.
    • 1917, Mary Webb, chapter 25, in Gone to Earth[3], New York: Dutton, page 206:
      The bracken, waist-high at first, was like small hoops at the top of the wood, where the tiny golden tormentil made a carpet and the yellow pimpernel was closing her eager eyes.
    • 1972, Richard Adams, chapter 50, in Watership Down[4], London: Macmillan:
      The flowers were sparser. Here and there a yellow tormentil showed in the grass, a late harebell or a few shreds of purple bloom on a brown, crisping tuft of self-heal.