Definition of mandrake in US English:



  • 1A Mediterranean plant of the nightshade family, with white or purple flowers and large yellow berries. It has a forked fleshy root that supposedly resembles the human form and was formerly widely used in medicine and magic, allegedly shrieking when pulled from the ground.

    Mandragora officinarum, family Solanaceae

    • ‘This discussion of mandrakes introduces the larger issues of the nature of magic and the magic of nature.’
    • ‘Plants, such as the mandrake, orchid, and sweet potato, have, as the history of folk medicine reveals, been credited with rejuvenating properties.’
    • ‘This is true of many old medicinal plants like the mandrake, an herb which grows around the Mediterranean.’
    • ‘Millie picked up a piece of mandrake root and broke it.’
    • ‘His experiences of living in Rome produced Limitatio, a painting that includes variations on the already fantastic shapes of mandrake roots, based on an illustration in a medieval manuscript at the Vatican Library.’
    • ‘Assistants held the patient securely and some sedation such as mandrake root or solution of opium was given, a concoction which probably stiffened the surgeon's resolve rather than mollified the patient.’
    • ‘Colin, staring at a jar of mandrake roots, turns to her, smiling.’
    • ‘Last summer at The Yard, an arts colony devoted entirely to dance, he spent a month making Mandragora Vulgaris, a work based on the medieval legend of the mandrake root.’
    • ‘They are easily frightened, and can only be lured out of their nesting grounds with offerings of mandrake root.’
    • ‘She's an old woman pulling out a maple sapling by its roots and trying to recall a song she once knew about mandrakes.’
    • ‘It was thought that mandrakes sprang up beneath gallows, with the root taking on the shape of the person who'd been hanged.’
  • 2

    another term for mayapple


Middle English mandrag(g)e, from Middle Dutch mandrag(r)e, from medieval Latin mandragora; associated with man (because of the root) + drake in the Old English sense ‘dragon’.