Definition of mistletoe in US English:



  • A leathery-leaved parasitic plant which grows on apple, oak, and other broadleaf trees and bears white glutinous berries in winter.

    Several species in the family Viscaceae, in particular the Eurasian Viscum album, and in the family Loranthaceae, in particular the American Phoradendron serotinum

    • ‘The correct procedure is that a man should pick a berry each time he kisses a girl under the mistletoe, and the kissing should stop when the last berry is gone.’
    • ‘Unlike most plant parasites, the broom-forming dwarf mistletoes may considerably benefit a forest community by creating additional food resources and habitat for many animals.’
    • ‘Since mistletoes have fruit during the winter, cultures have long associated them with fertility.’
    • ‘Kissing under the mistletoe is a relatively recent custom, popularized in Victorian England.’
    • ‘He eyed the mistletoe above her head and before she knew what was happening, Justin was kissing her passionately.’
    • ‘The Druids would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing.’
    • ‘I've already hung up the holly, bows, wreaths, and mistletoes around the house strategically.’
    • ‘Once the festivities are over put the mistletoe berries in a plastic bag and keep in a cool place until February or March.’
    • ‘Somehow Nicky kept finding mistletoes all around the house, so he had an excuse to kiss me.’
    • ‘Most dwarf mistletoes grow on conifers in the western United States.’
    • ‘So far it's been okay, I kiss Greg under the mistletoe when I get a chance.’
    • ‘Unlike Spanish moss, mistletoe is a parasite that takes its food from the host tree.’
    • ‘In Somerset and Herefordshire mistletoe grows on the apple trees from which cedar is produced.’
    • ‘At the turn of the last century, botanists reported forests ablaze with the scarlet blooms of native mistletoes, but today few areas of New Zealand support profuse growth.’
    • ‘The mistletoes that grow on the Ohau beeches can reach nine feet in both length and width and can virtually envelop a tree, but unlike their European and North American counterparts, they do not damage their hosts.’
    • ‘Honeyeaters are the primary pollinators for native mistletoes and certain other nectar-producing plants.’
    • ‘For example, mistletoe grows on trees and supplements its nutrition by absorbing nutrients from the tree.’
    • ‘Kissing under the mistletoe is a remnant of the old fertility rites.’
    • ‘The other well-known xylem tapping parasites are the mistletoes.’
    • ‘Decorative plants such as holly, mistletoe and poinsettia are toxic to pets.’


Old English misteltān, from mistel ‘mistletoe’ (of Germanic origin, related to Dutch mistel and German Mistel) + tān ‘twig’.