Definition of flax in US English:



  • 1A blue-flowered herbaceous plant that is cultivated for its seed (linseed) and for textile fiber made from its stalks.

    Linum usitatissimum, family Linaceae

    • ‘The principal crops are grain, sunflower seeds, sugar beet, and flax.’
    • ‘Oats, millet, opium poppies, and flax were also being cultivated by the end of the Neolithic period.’
    • ‘Irish farmers came to rely on imported flax seed because the very best linen required the harvesting of flax before the seed could mature.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, linseed itself is sometimes used as a food grain in India, where the species originated and where flax has been cultivated since earliest times.’
    • ‘Many have abundant gardens, with brilliant red poppies, orange marigolds, blue flax, pink clematis and jacaranda, and large cypress and eucalyptus trees.’
    1. 1.1 Textile fiber obtained from the flax plant.
      ‘a mill for the preparation and spinning of flax’
      • ‘These fibres would then be spun in the same way as flax or wool.’
      • ‘Laces were typically made from flax, silk, metal wrapped silk and some cotton and wool.’
      • ‘Prior to that, cushions were stuffed with flax, cotton or other padded materials and the result was fairly deadening.’
      • ‘Linen is from flax, a bast fiber taken from the stalk of the plant.’
      • ‘Handmade utensils have been produced since the beginning of the nineteenth century; the primary textiles are wool and flax.’
    2. 1.2 Used in names of other plants of the flax family (e.g. purging flax) or plants that yield similar fiber (e.g. false flax).
      • ‘Travelling with them were weeds of nuisance significance, selection favouring their life-cycles to fit those of the crops or to mimic them: false oat in cereals, and in flax, the false flax.’


Old English flæx, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch vlas and German Flachs, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin plectere and Greek plekein ‘to plait, twist’.