- 1any of a number of large water lilies, in particular.
- (also sacred lotus) a lily of Asia and northern Australia, typically with dark pink or white-and-pink flowers (Nelumbo nucifera, family Nelumbonaceae). (also American lotus) a yellow-flowered North American lily with bowl-shaped leaves (Nelumbo lutea, family Nelumbonaceae). (also Egyptian lotus) a lily regarded as sacred in ancient Egypt (the white-flowered Nymphaea lotus and the blue-flowered N. caerulea, family Nymphaeaceae).
- short for lotus position.
late 15th century (denoting a type of clover or trefoil, described by Homer as food for horses): via Latin from Greek lōtos, of Semitic origin. The term was used by classical writers to denote various trees and plants; the legendary plant (lotus (sense 2)) mentioned by Homer was thought by later Greek writers to be Ziziphus lotus, a relative of the jujube