1. Any of various plants of the genus Pelargonium, native chiefly to southern Africa and widely cultivated for their rounded, often variegated leaves and showy clusters of red, pink, or white irregular flowers. An essential oil is obtained from the leaves of some species. Also called pelargonium, storksbill.
2. Any of various plants of the genus Geranium, having palmately divided leaves and pink or purplish regular flowers. Also called cranesbill.
3. A strong to vivid red.
[New Latin Geranium, genus name (under which Linnaeus included both Geranium and Pelargonium, later separated), from Latin geranium, a species of geranium (G. tuberosum), cranesbill (from the appearance of its seed capsule ), from Greek geranion, diminutive of geranos, crane; see gerə-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.