Flax, also known as common flax or linseed, is a flowering plant, Linum usitatissimum, in the family Linaceae. It is cultivated as a food and fiber crop in regions of the world with temperate climate. Textiles made from flax are known in Western countries as linen, and are traditionally used for bed sheets, underclothes, and table linen. Its oil is known as linseed oil. In addition to referring to the plant itself, the word "flax" may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant. The plant species is known only as a cultivated plant, and appears to have been domesticated just once from the wild species Linum bienne, called pale flax. The plants called "flax" in New Zealand are, by contrast, members of the genus Phormium.
From Old English fleax, from Proto-Germanic *flahsą, from Proto-Indo-European *pleḱ- (“to plait”). Cognate with Old Frisian flax, Old Saxon *flahs (Dutch vlas), Old High German flahs (German Flachs); the Northern Germanic (and most likely the Gothic too) stem is different.
- IPA(key): /flæks/
- Rhymes: -æks
flax (countable and uncountable, plural flaxes)
- A plant of the genus Linum, especially Linum usitatissimum