General English


  • noun an area of acid soil where low shrubs such as heather and gorse grow and which are treeless as a result of grazing by animals


  • noun an uncultivated area of dry sandy soil, covered with bracken, heather and small bushes

Origin & History of “heath”

Heath goes back to Indo-European *kait-, denoting ‘open, unploughed country’. Its Germanic descendant *khaithiz produced German and Dutch heide and English heath. One of the commonest plants of such habitats is the heather, and this was accordingly named in prehistoric Germanic *khaithjō, a derivative of the same base as produced *khaithiz, which in modern English has become heath ‘plant of the heather family’. (The word heather (14th c.) itself, incidentally, does not appear to be related. It comes from a Scottish or Northern middle English hadder or hathir, and its modern English form is due to association with heath.).