Definition of basil in English:



mass noun
  • 1An aromatic plant of the mint family, native to tropical Asia. The leaves are used as a culinary herb, especially in Mediterranean dishes.

    Genus Ocimum, family Labiatae: several species, in particular the annual sweet basil (O. basilicum)

    ‘garnish the baked pizza with fresh basil’
    as modifier ‘basil sauce’
    • ‘Mix in aromatic herbs like basil, rosemary, and thyme.’
    • ‘Rinse and drain the cress, endive, mint, basil and coriander leaves.’
    • ‘The real taste of yum comes from adding fresh celery, mint, and basil leaves.’
    • ‘Then a handful of fresh, chopped oregano, thyme, basil and tarragon was added.’
    • ‘Remove from the heat, add the parsley, thyme, basil, tarragon, chervil, and chives and stir to combine.’
    • ‘Perhaps it's because it isn't a classic culinary herb like basil or sage, or maybe because its medicinal values are limited.’
    • ‘One authority recommends armadillo sausages, well flavoured with coriander seed, basil and bay leaves, garlic, and nutmeg.’
    • ‘The same applies to fresh herbs like basil or oregano.’
    • ‘Choose five of the following fresh herbs: flat-leaf parsley, chives, mint, chervil, basil, dill, tarragon.’
    • ‘Toss a few sprigs of fresh basil, parsley and dill with the baby greens for a healthy burst of flavor.’
    • ‘The herbs you use in soup are your personal choice, but they often include basil, dill, rosemary, parsley, thyme, peppercorns and bay leaves.’
    • ‘In a middle-class household it usually starts with a plate of fresh greens - scallions, radishes, fresh basil, mint, coriander, and others in season.’
    • ‘I am now the proud owner of all the fresh basil, bay leaves, thyme, sage and parsley a girl could want.’
    • ‘Just before serving fold in basil leaves, fish sauce and lime juice.’
    • ‘For fresh flavorings this summer, plant basil, chives, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.’
    • ‘Or sprinkle your rice with oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, parsley and sage.’
    • ‘The site is a former dairy farm, now given over to a variety of herbs - ranging from basil, parsley, coriander and chives to edible flowers and mixed salad leaves.’
    • ‘The large pasta squares were perfectly cooked and served in a goat cheese sauce, adorned with fresh basil leaves and strips of delectable sun-dried tomato.’
    • ‘Rosemary and thyme both release their flavours in the heat of the oven - unlike the softie herbs such as basil, marjoram and oregano which can't take the heat and are best avoided here.’
    • ‘Chopped fresh herbs - such as parsley, chives, basil or chervil, or a combination - can be used for an optional garnish.’
  • 2A European plant which grows in hedges and scrub.

    Clinopodium vulgare, family Labiatae

    • ‘These last featured a plastic pipette at the end of the skewer that was filled with a wild basil pesto dressing to suck when you'd finished the prawns.’
    • ‘Wild Basil grows well in dry grassy places, along banks and hedgerows and open woodland.’
    • ‘Wild flowers present include wild basil (Clinopodium vulgare), agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), hedge bedstraw (Galium mollugo) and wild teasel (Dipsacus fullonum).’
    • ‘Have you been to the part of Italy where wild basil grows?’


Late Middle English: from Old French basile, via medieval Latin from Greek basilikon, neuter of basilikos ‘royal’ (see basilica).