any of several aromatic herbs belonging to the genus Ocimum, of the mint family, as O. basilicum (sweet basil) having purplish-green ovate leaves used in cooking.
Saint. Also, Basilius, (“the Great”) a.d. 329?–379, bishop of Caesarea in Asia Minor (brother of Saint Gregory of Nyssa).
a male given name: from a Greek word meaning “royal.”.
Contemporary Examples

Just as relevant, he was also the son of the important Harlem political figure, basil Paterson.
How Caroline Bested Blago Richard Cohen January 23, 2009

ELLIOT: Tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, olive oil, sea salt—enough said.
Culinary Kings-Turned TV Judges Cook Up Verdicts on Gordon Ramsay-Hosted MasterChef Daily Beast Promotions July 26, 2010

The complaint is someone was rude to me, my salad was incomplete, they left the basil off my TBM.
If Cosi Wants to Make a Profit, It Needs to Increase Wages Daniel Gross August 21, 2013

And like David Paterson, another indulged child of another New York political powerhouse, basil Paterson.
Andrew Cuomo’s Do-Gooders Done Wrong Lloyd Green July 27, 2014

Beyond the basil, which is sold in Whole Foods, we have kale and chard and bok choy and bell peppers.
Dylan Ratigan Unplugged: Ex-MSNBC Host Turns Hydroponic Entrepreneur Daniel Gross March 21, 2013

Historical Examples

The magistrates, the officers of the Senator’s court, are her creatures,—basil no less than the rest.
Under the Witches’ Moon Nathan Gallizier

Fischer, basil Jones and my son have been killed in the War.
War Letters of a Public-School Boy Paul Jones.

Taking off the corner of the basil when grinding, often answers the purpose.
Woodworking for Beginners Charles Gardner Wheeler

Up goes the right of basil the son of Richard, and behold while all cry “a parry!”
Follow My leader Talbot Baines Reed

I also was accorded an unsatisfactory interview with basil Wilberforce.
Ghosts I Have Seen Violet Tweedale

Also called sweet basil. a Eurasian plant, Ocimum basilicum, having spikes of small white flowers and aromatic leaves used as herbs for seasoning: family Lamiaceae (labiates)
Also called wild basil. a European plant, Satureja vulgaris (or Clinopodium vulgare), with dense clusters of small pink or whitish flowers: family Lamiaceae
basil-thyme, a European plant, Acinos arvensis, having clusters of small violet-and-white flowers: family Lamiaceae
Saint, called the Great, ?329–379 ad, Greek patriarch: an opponent of Arianism and one of the founders of monasticism. Feast day: Jan 2, June 14, or Jan 1

aromatic shrubby plant, early 15c., from Old French basile (15c., Modern French basilic), from Medieval Latin basilicum, from Greek basilikon (phyton) “royal (plant),” from basileus “king” (see Basil). So called, probably, because it was believed to have been used in making royal perfumes. In Latin, confused with basiliscus (see basilisk) because it was supposed to be an antidote to the basilisk’s venom.

masc. proper name, from Latin Basilius, from Greek Basileios “kingly, royal,” from basileus “king,” of unknown origin, possibly from a language of Asia Minor (cf. Lydian battos “king”).


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