Definition of myrtle in US English:



  • 1An evergreen shrub which has glossy aromatic foliage and white flowers followed by purple-black oval berries.

    Myrtus communis, family Myrtaceae (the myrtle family). This family also includes several aromatic plants (clove, allspice) and many characteristic Australian plants (eucalyptus trees, bottlebrushes)

    • ‘Between the ruins grew cypresses and oleanders, hibiscus, myrtle and wild roses.’
    • ‘When growing Mediterranean herbs, such as myrtle or bay, in containers, it is best to use a soil-based compost with extra grit.’
    • ‘When I moved into my bungalow about 20 years ago, I inherited a shrub which I was given to understand is a myrtle: it is a bushy evergreen with small, dark green, glossy, pointed leaves.’
    • ‘Within its protective cover, he built gleaming palaces and gardens perfumed with roses, jasmine and myrtle.’
    • ‘A heady, often impenetrable mix of shrubs, herbs and wild flowers, such as lavender, myrtle, marjoram and thyme, its elusive scent permeates everything from the wine to the honey.’
  • 2North American The lesser periwinkle.

    Vinca minor, family Apocynaceae. See periwinkle

    • ‘If you were daring, you might plant myrtle (periwinkle).’


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin myrtilla, myrtillus, diminutive of Latin myrta, myrtus, from Greek murtos.