Definition of heather in English:



mass noun
  • 1A purple-flowered Eurasian heath that grows abundantly on moorland and heathland. Many ornamental varieties have been developed.

    Calluna vulgaris, family Ericaceae (the heather family). This family includes the rhododendrons and azaleas as well as the bilberries and many other berry-bearing dwarf shrubs

    Also called ling
    • ‘Have you ever investigated all the available varieties of heaths and heathers?’
    • ‘Litter is a foreign word and the flower beds are immaculate as the heathers and shrubs thrive in the winter weather with the daffodils lurking beneath the surface.’
    • ‘Groundcover plantings of smoky mauve heathers come alive in spring with surrounding sweeps of cobalt blue grape hyacinths.’
    • ‘Skimmias also like to grow in slightly acid soil, making them superb companions for the heathers and ivies of your choice.’
    • ‘This is beautifully landscaped and laid out so the customer can see what the heathers, conifers and shrubs he is planning to buy will look like in a garden.’
    • ‘Rhododendrons, most heathers, camellias, pieris, skimmia, citrus and many others must have acid soil.’
    • ‘Its edge sliced the crisp air, graceful as its owner that stepped and leapt, feral across the ground, through the low purple heathers and verdant mosses.’
    • ‘We especially liked the colorful heathers and the brilliant Japanese maples.’
    • ‘Around the rock rested an expansive wreath of heathers and rhododendrons.’
    • ‘You can use a combination of plants: primulas, cyclamen, heathers and ivy are all useful for winter colour.’
    • ‘They do not need a wall and are happy to scramble over heathers, conifers, trees or hedges.’
    • ‘It's a shared space and has heathers, ferns, gorse and many wild flowers (not at this time of year) growing on it.’
    • ‘Tolerant of cold winds and frost, its height makes it an ideal pot plant in a mixed bed of carpeting heathers and ground-covering conifers.’
    • ‘Asters look fabulous combined with gold variegated trailing ivies and heathers with lime-green or flame coloured foliage.’
    • ‘Containers can be given a new lease of life by replacing these plants with autumn and winter specimens such as pansies, winter-flowering heathers, hardy cyclamen and evergreen ivies.’
    • ‘In February and March, heathers and hellebores kick off Annemarie's garden's flowering season, which continues until late in the year.’
    • ‘Also, who is a good supplier of a variety of heathers that give a display all year round?’
    • ‘Another simple and instant solution would be to plant up twin containers with a combination of dwarf conifers and winter-flowering heathers that come in every shade from white through pink to dark red.’
    • ‘‘It's ideal for plants that are acid lovers, such as rhododendron, azaleas and heathers, and it's also weed-free,’ he said.’
    • ‘A third of it is open heathland, carpeted with purple heathers and spotted yellow with gorse.’
    1. 1.1informal Any plant of the Ericaceae family similar to heather; a heath.


Old English hadre, hedre (recorded in place names), of unknown origin. The word was chiefly Scots until the 16th century; the change in the first syllable in the 18th century was due to association with heath.