Definition of woad in English:

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Pronunciation: /wəʊd/


[mass noun]
1A yellow-flowered European plant of the cabbage family. It was formerly widely grown in Britain as a source of blue dye, which was extracted from the leaves after they had been dried, powdered, and fermented.
  • Isatis tinctoria, family Cruciferae.
Example sentences
  • The distinctive blue dye used by the Picts to tattoo themselves came from the woad plant, which grows wild in the North of Britain.
  • Woad robs the soil of nutrients, forcing medieval woad growers in Europe to move frequently in search of uncultivated land.
  • Blues used in tartan cloth originally came from the native plant woad, which was also used as a form of ceremonial face and body paint by ancient Scots.
1.1Dye obtained from the woad plant, now superseded by synthetic products.
Example sentences
  • The early Celts are fun to draw, with blue woad tattoos, punk-like spiky hair and walrus-like moustaches.
  • ‘All Britons dye themselves with woad which makes them blue,’ Caesar recorded, ‘so that in battle their appearance is more terrible.’
  • Caesar claimed far more widespread use of the blue dye woad, but this was used over the whole body and not for painting or tattooing patterns.


Old English wād, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wede and German Waid.

Words that rhyme with woad

abode, bestrode, bode, code, commode, corrode, download, encode, erode, explode, forebode, goad, implode, load, lode, middle-of-the-road, mode, node, ode, offload, outrode, road, rode, sarod, Spode, strode, toad, upload

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: woad

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