Definition of heath in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /hiːθ/


1chiefly British An area of open uncultivated land, typically on acid sandy soil, with characteristic vegetation of heather, gorse, and coarse grasses: horses were being exercised on the heath [mass noun]: the marshland gave way to heath and sandy scrub
More example sentences
  • Ever more marginal land including wetlands, heaths, and steep hillsides had to be brought into cultivation as the century progressed, much of it inherently unsuited to arable production.
  • The golden plover breeds in short vegetation on upland heaths and peat bogs and adults also travel each day to feed on nearby pastures.
  • Previously unexplored corners of the countryside will be unlocked, allowing people to walk freely over mapped areas of mountain, moor, heath and registered common land as of May 28.
moor, heathland, moorland, scrub, scrubs, common land, open country, upland
1.1 [mass noun] Ecology Vegetation dominated by dwarf shrubs of the heather family: [as modifier]: heath vegetation
More example sentences
  • Coastal heath vegetation is particularly colourful this wildflower season.
  • Peaty soils dominated hollows and lower slopes with tallish heather, and subalpine soils dominated the freely drained ground with short heath.
  • After an hour this high ground offers a panoramic view of an unspoilt, uncharted, expanse of wild heath covered moorland stretching out in all directions as far as the eye can see.
2A dwarf shrub with small leathery leaves and small pink or purple bell-shaped flowers, characteristic of heaths and moorland.
  • Erica and related genera, family Ericaceae: many species.
Example sentences
  • The white, purple and red flowers of heath bloom in early to late winter in the north except in bitter cold.
  • Hardiest and most readily available of the winter-blooming heaths are varieties of Erica carnea.
  • Have you ever investigated all the available varieties of heaths and heathers?
3A small light brown and orange European butterfly which typically has eyespots on the wings, the caterpillar feeding on grasses.
  • Genus Coenonympha, subfamily Satyrinae, family Nymphalidae: several species, including the common small heath (C. pamphilus).
Example sentences
  • A number of butterflies are also present, including marbled white, meadow brown, small heath and small skipper.
  • They are home to species such as the large heath Butterfly the Fen Raft Spider and the Manchester Treble-bar moth.
  • Foulshaw boasts a huge variety of plants and animals, including the cranberry, bog rosemary, heath butterfly and bog bush cricket.
4A yellowish-brown chiefly day-flying European moth of heathland and grassland.
  • Several species in the family Geometridae.
Example sentences
  • It is thought to be a less patterned variant of the Common Heath Moth, Ematurga atomaria.
  • We also recorded Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Heath Moth and a Stick Insect.



Pronunciation: /ˈhiːθi/
Example sentences
  • Explore the dunes at Keremma, then seek the abandoned fishing village of Ménéham, way out in the heathy wilderness by the sea.
  • Heathy woodland and forest has an understory dominated by small-leaved shrubs.
  • He had enriched his heathy land by the process of paring and burning.


Old English hǣth, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch heide and German Heide.

  • pagan from Late Middle English:

    In Latin paganus originally meant ‘of the country, rustic’, and also ‘civilian, non-military’. Around the 4th century ad, it developed the sense ‘non-Christian, heathen’. One theory is that belief in the ancient gods lingered on in the rural villages after Christianity had been generally accepted in the towns and cities of the Roman Empire; another focuses on the ‘civilian’ sense, and points out that early Christians called themselves ‘soldiers of Christ’, making non-Christians into ‘civilians’. A third view compares heathens to people outside the civilized world of towns and cities, belonging to the countryside. Curiously, it was not uncommon to find Pagan as a given name, a custom that has recently been revived. The Latin root paganus came from pagus ‘country district’, which is also the source of peasant. Heathen is similar in meaning and development, coming from a word meaning ‘inhabiting open country’ which is related to heath. Both these words are Germanic and were already in use in Old English.

Words that rhyme with heath

beneath, buck teeth, Hadith, Keith, neath, Reith, teeth, underneath, Westmeath, wreath

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: heath

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.