1. Any of various hemiparasitic plants of the order Santalales that grow on the branches of other plants, especially Viscum album of Eurasia and Phoradendron leucarpum of North America, both of which have leathery evergreen leaves and waxy white berries. Extracts of the Eurasian species are sometimes used for medicinal purposes.
2. A sprig of mistletoe, often used as a Christmas decoration.
[Middle English mistelto, back-formation from Old English misteltān (tān, taken for pl. of tā, toe) : mistel, mistletoe; see meigh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + tān, twig.]
(click for a larger image)mistletoe
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.