1590s, shrub of genus Syringa with mauve flowers, with French lilac, Spanish lilac from Turkish leylak (the tree reached Western Europe via Istanbul), perhaps from a native Balkan name. Attested from 1791 as a color name; as a scent, from 1895. As an adjective, "pale pinkish-purple," from 1801. Related: Lilaceous.
updated on July 06, 2017