Definition of gentian in English:



  • 1A plant of temperate and mountainous regions, which typically has violet or vivid blue trumpet-shaped flowers. Many kinds are cultivated as ornamentals, especially as arctic alpines, and some are of medicinal use.

    Family Gentianaceae: genera Gentiana and Gentianella

    • ‘While bamboo stalks and roots make up about 95 percent of its diet, the giant panda also feeds on gentians, irises, crocuses, fish, and occasionally small rodents.’
    • ‘It's a surprisingly verdant mountain - spared by the last glaciation - where rhododendrons, gentians and rare orchids bloom.’
    • ‘As we climb, the maze of trees, ferns, and blueberry bushes gives way to subalpine meadows painted with purple lupine, pale blue gentians, crimson columbine, and yellow arnica.’
    • ‘In summer, the meadow is in full bloom; in fall, asters and gentians shine, and the trees put on quite a display.’
    • ‘Traditionally, gentians require a peat-based compost but Ian uses a ‘greener’ alternative.’
    1. 1.1mass noun A tonic liquid substance formerly extracted from the root of the gentian.
      • ‘In Western herbal medicine barberry root and gentian are used as bitter tonics to aid digestion.’


Late Middle English: from Latin gentiana, according to Pliny named after Gentius, king of Illyria, who is said to have discovered the medicinal properties of a common species.