From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sepia officinalis (cuttlefish)

Officinalis, or officinale, is a Medieval Latin epithet denoting substances or organisms – mainly plants – with uses in medicine and herbalism. It commonly occurs as a specific epithet - the second term of a two-part botanical name. Officinalis is used to modify masculine and feminine nouns, while officinale is used for neuter nouns.


The word officinalis literally means "of or belonging to an officina", the storeroom of a monastery, where medicines and other necessaries were kept.[1] Officina was a contraction of opificina, from opifex (gen. opificis) "worker, maker, doer" (from opus "work") + -fex, -ficis, "one who does," from facere "do, perform".[2] When Linnaeus invented the binomial system of nomenclature, he gave the specific name "officinalis", in the 1735 (1st Edition) of his Systema Naturae, to plants (and sometimes animals) with an established medicinal, culinary, or other use.[3]


See also[edit]

  • Sativum or Sativa, the Medieval Latin epithet denoting certain cultivated plants


  1. ^ Stearn, William T. (2004). Botanical Latin. Timber Press (OR). p. 456. ISBN 0-88192-627-2.
  2. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary, entry "officinalis", accessed May 3, 2010.
  3. ^ Pearn J.,"On 'officinalis' the names of plants as one enduring history of therapeutic medicine. Vesalius. 2010 Dec;Suppl:24-8 Authors: