- any of several plants of the genera Gentiana, Gentianella, and Gentianopsis, having usually blue, or sometimes yellow, white, or red, flowers, as the fringed gentian of North America, or Gentiana lutea, of Europe. Compare gentian family.
- any of various plants resembling the gentian.
- the root of G. lutea, or a preparation of it, used as a tonic.
O.E., from L. gentiana, said by Pliny to be named for Gentius, king of ancient Illyria who discovered its properties. This is likely a folk-etymology, but the word may be Illyrian, since the suffix -an frequently occurs in Illyrian words. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gentian)
"It was incorrigibly Hudson River school—brown light, ragged elms, romantic water. There they sat on the grass confronting nature. When they had eaten, they did what poets and philosophers did outdoors in the early years of the picturesque—strolled, picked early autumn leaves or late gentians."
- Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose