A tall plant (Alcea rosea syn. Althaea rosea) in the mallow family, native to the Middle East and widely cultivated for its showy clusters of very large, variously colored flowers. Also called althea.
[Middle English holihocke, marsh mallow : holi, holy; see HOLY + hoc, mallow (from Old English).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.