Share this entry

costmary Syllabification: cost·mar·y
Pronunciation: /ˈkôstˌme(ə)rē/ /ˈkäst-/

Definition of costmary in English:

noun (plural costmaries)

An aromatic plant of the daisy family, formerly used in medicine and for flavoring ale prior to the use of hops.
  • Balsamita major, family Compositae
Example sentences
  • The costmary plant is a tall and erect perennial chrysanthemum, of minor importance as a condiment.
  • Perfumed toilet water was once made from costmary leaves and they added a spicy flavor to ale.
  • Using a mortar and pestle, grind the spikenard, peppercorns, costmary and cloves together.


Late Middle English: from obsolete cost (via Latin from Greek kostos, via Arabic from Sanskrit kuṣṭha, denoting an aromatic plant) + Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ (with whom it was associated in medieval times because of its medicinal qualities).

Definition of costmary in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day whippersnapper
Pronunciation: ˈwɪpəsnapə
a young, inexperienced person considered presumptuous or overconfident...