Definition of colchicum in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkälCHəkəm/

noun (plural colchicums)

1A plant of a genus that includes the autumn crocuses.
  • Genus Colchicum, family Liliaceae.
Example sentences
  • You also can plant squirrel-proof bulbs like daffodils and colchicums.
  • There are two different types of fall blooming bulbs, colchicums and crocus.
  • On warm nights they have begun nibbling the freshly emerging foliage of my autumn-flowering colchicums.
1.1The dried corm or seed of meadow saffron, which has analgesic properties and is used medicinally, especially as a tincture.
Example sentences
  • So Darwin had his urine tested, followed Bence Jones's special diet, and dosed himself with colchicum, a dangerously corrosive specific for gout.


From Latin, from Greek kolkhikon 'of Colchis' (see Colchis), alluding to the skills as a poisoner of the sorceress Medea of Colchis in classical mythology.

  • pheasant from Middle English:

    An old name for the river Rion in Georgia in southeast Europe was the Phasis. The Greeks believed that the pheasant originated in that region before it spread westwards, and called it the ‘bird of Phasis’. The region the Phasis flowed through was called Colchis by the Greeks, which was also said to be the land of the Golden Fleece. The modern Latin name for the common pheasant is still Phasianus colchicus ‘the pheasant of Colchis’. The variety of autumn-flowering crocus called a colchicum, gets its name from the same place. It was said by ancient authors to be particularly common there, and the poison that comes from it is said to have been used by the legendary Colchican witch Medea, who helped Jason win the Golden Fleece.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: col·chi·cum

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