Definition of lilac in US English:



  • 1A Eurasian shrub or small tree of the olive family, that has fragrant violet, pink, or white blossoms and is widely cultivated as an ornamental.

    Genus Syringa, family Oleaceae; several species, in particular the common lilac (S. vulgaris), with many cultivars

    • ‘There were roses, lilacs, violets, lilies of the valley, impatiens, irises, and so many more.’
    • ‘Hydrangeas are to summer as lilacs are to spring.’
    • ‘They come for the butterfly weed, lilacs, echinacea and anise hyssop, and especially for the white, lavender and pink butterfly bushes.’
    • ‘If you are serious about lilacs, Lilacs: The Genus Syringa, is the one book that belongs on your bookshelf.’
    • ‘There were lilies and foxgloves, roses and lilacs, and some sort of fruit tree that bore square-shaped green fruit.’
    • ‘The assortment was beautiful filled with tulips, lilies, lilacs and pink roses, her favourite coloured rose.’
    • ‘The sweet smell of lilies, roses, lilacs, buttercups, violets, and many other flowers Rodom could not even recognize.’
    • ‘He was standing in the center of a beautiful garden boasting blooming lilacs and tulips lost in a tangle of exotic plants, fruits and vegetables.’
    • ‘It also affects trees, such as lilacs, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums and red and Scotch pines, as well as many others.’
    • ‘The woods were thick with new leaves and fragrant with honeysuckle and lilacs.’
    • ‘Since then it has been found mainly in rhododendrons and viburnums, pieris, camellias, lilacs and other plants which have been imported or sat alongside imports.’
    • ‘She caught a whiff of perfumed fragrance as she passed a row of purple lilacs, and white jasmines.’
    • ‘The aromas of tulips, roses and lilacs filled his nostrils.’
    • ‘In addition there was a parterre of plants chosen for their scent: myrtles, jasmine, roses and lilacs, which were replaced when they began to fade.’
    • ‘Roger says he's used willow water for years to root azaleas, lilacs, summersweets and even roses.’
    • ‘There were some Siberian elms, lilacs and maples also.’
    • ‘In March and April alone, daphne, forsythia, camellias, Japanese quince and lilacs continue in bloom.’
    • ‘Under my skin my veins pule so hard, so much blood forced through them all at once, I wait to see them move, widen then shrink back down to thin strings of lilacs or purple tulips.’
    • ‘A very popular flowering shrub, lilacs serve many purposes in gardens.’
    • ‘Other flowers can be dipped in light batter and fried, to make delicate sweet fritters: elderflowers, apple blossom, acacia flowers, and lilacs can be used in this manner.’
    1. 1.1 A pale pinkish-violet color.
      as modifier ‘a lilac cardigan’
      • ‘The queen's bedchamber sits daintily festooned with floral pinks and lilacs in a combination with gold, overlooking the south parterre.’
      • ‘Some are white, many in hues of lavender and lilac, pale mauves and deep purples, and a host of other colors.’
      • ‘I get the feeling that yellow and lilac are your favourite colours.’
      • ‘Violent lilacs, shocking pinks and hot crimson, matching the steamy temperature, mingled with more sombre beige and cream, as the ladies rose to the fashion challenge.’
      • ‘Soft colours such as lilac, rosy pink, light green and silver create a light-hearted effect.’
      • ‘Upstairs the master bedroom with exposed stone walls on two sides has been stylishly decorated in lilac with off-white carpeting.’
      • ‘Upstairs, Karen's bedroom, decorated with shades of her favourite colour lilac, remains exactly as she left it.’
      • ‘With lovely chiffon dresses in colours like lime, lilac, rose, and lemon yellow you can indulge yourself.’
      • ‘Several clouds had blanketed themselves out across the hills and mountains in the distance, dark lilac over darker purple.’
      • ‘Colours range from the ever-popular blues to pretty pinks, lilacs and fresh whites.’
      • ‘Natural colours - pebble, mushroom and lilac - soften the industrial core and contrast well with the metal staircase that links the gallery floors.’
      • ‘Fresh and fruity colours abound: pink, turquoise, lime green, yellow, rose and lilac are complemented with soft tones of white and beige, and very pale pastels.’
      • ‘His eyes were pale lilac, coloured contacts she mused, and they seemed to sparkle in the light like jewels.’
      • ‘It's coloured in Stella's preferred palate: gun-metal greys fading into muted violets and lilacs; lurid cerises and delicate eau de nil.’
      • ‘After a six-month absence, the come-hither tulips are extremely tempting in their lilacs, scarlets, apricots and girly pinks.’
      • ‘During anthesis, petals gradually lose their colour, becoming completely white or pale lilac by the end of anthesis.’
      • ‘His bungalow in London's Blackheath - home to wife Jackie and daughters Cecile and Hermione - is decorated in his favourite colour: lilac.’
      • ‘Long strips of colour zigzag across the landscape like a patchwork quilt, reds and yellows mingling with purples, pinks and lilacs.’
      • ‘With harmless colours like a mild metallic lilac and beige, it looks more like a feminine home appliance than traditional home office equipment.’
      • ‘Love letters would be in some flowery font like, ah, I dunno one of the script ones and it'd be in pretty pastel shades of pinks and lilacs.’


  • Of a pale pinkish-violet color.

    • ‘Despite being a year or two out of date, he thought that the dress quite suited her - the pale grey was nearly the shade of her eyes, and the pale lilac trim was smart without being flashy.’
    • ‘After throwing on my oldest pair of jeans and aqua and lilac tie-dyed T-shirt, I made it to the meal tent.’
    • ‘The bride wore an ivory two-piece dress by Maria Grachvogel with a fitted corset-style bodice and full tulle skirt with delicate embroidered flowers, and she had lilac flowers in her hair.’
    • ‘The Matron of Honour was Anne-Marie Byrne and the bridesmaid was Sharon Barry and they wore straight fitted dresses, of lilac satin.’
    • ‘The bridesmaids were Janet's sister Lynda (aka Chrisso from Fair City) and cousin Lorraine Breen and they wore lilac lace top and satin ends.’
    • ‘Mowe is deep crimson or purple and Lilacina has lilac flowers that age to plum.’
    • ‘But don't ever attempt going to the Square during St Mary's festival, when hordes of lilac clothed disciples throng the Basilica.’
    • ‘She had decided to try the bottle of lilac perfume that she had discovered in one of the drawers of her dresser.’
    • ‘Next to it was a huge canopy bed with rich purple covers and lilac pillowcases.’
    • ‘Members of the town watch, complete with lilac buttonholes, were on guard at the doors of Red Lion Books to add a surreal note of colour to the proceedings.’
    • ‘The pale lilac floor was stained here and there with burns from the barrels and wetted elsewhere with ice from the tanks.’
    • ‘I don't know whether it was part of the design, but it looked like someone glued lilac coloured rags to it.’
    • ‘They carried hand-tied bouquets of cream roses, lilac freesias, purple lysianthus and silvered bear grass.’
    • ‘In the lounge were three lilac sofas and two baby blue chairs.’
    • ‘Her pale lilac eyes sternly met the thief's copper ones, and then they turned to Maravandril's lucid, intrigued emeralds.’
    • ‘Diane looked up and shook her head at the ridiculousness of him stood there, wearing her lilac cardigan under Paul's old Jaguar coat.’
    • ‘Not only that, but each June they put on a spectacular show as they burst into misty pale lilac bloom.’
    • ‘Sour Grapes was popular a few years ago but I found it to be wishy-washy with pale greyish lilac flowers.’
    • ‘There is a smell of basement and old lilac powder that comes out of the boxes.’
    • ‘He even went so far as to design colour co-ordinated lilac outfits for the servants.’


Early 17th century: from obsolete French, via Spanish and Arabic from Persian līlak, variant of nīlak ‘bluish’, from nīl ‘blue’.