Definition of costmary in English:



  • An aromatic plant of the daisy family, formerly used in medicine and for flavouring ale prior to the use of hops.

    Balsamita major, family Compositae

    Also called alecost
    • ‘Using a mortar and pestle, grind the spikenard, peppercorns, costmary and cloves together.’
    • ‘Today, the primary use of costmary is in tea and herbal pillows and sachets.’
    • ‘In potpourris, costmary helps intensify the scents of other herbs.’
    • ‘The costmary plant is a tall and erect perennial chrysanthemum, of minor importance as a condiment.’
    • ‘Perfumed toilet water was once made from costmary leaves and they added a spicy flavor to ale.’


Late Middle English: from obsolete cost (via Latin from Greek kostos, via Arabic from Sanskrit kuṣṭha, denoting an aromatic plant) + Mary, the mother of Christ (with whom it was associated in medieval times because of its medicinal qualities).