Definition of oak in English:



  • 1A large tree which bears acorns and typically has lobed deciduous leaves. Oaks are dominant in many north temperate forests and are an important source of durable timber used in building, furniture, and (formerly) ships.

    Genus Quercus, family Fagaceae: many species, including the deciduous common (or English) oak (Q. robur), and the evergreen holm oak

    • ‘Suddenly he thought of the forest, the oak tree and the chances that she might be there.’
    • ‘Andy had often sat there, like she was now, and had always tilted her head to stare at the oak tree.’
    • ‘I had sat on the branch of an oak tree and gazed out at the forest surrounding me.’
    • ‘All alone in the world, she had run to the cliff where the monumental oak tree sat, leaned against it and cried.’
    • ‘It's worthy of note that the oak tree, sacred to Zeus, is the very tree which is most susceptible to be struck by lightning.’
    1. 1.1mass noun A smoky flavour or nose characteristic of wine aged in barrels made from oak wood.
      ‘scents of toasty oak’
      as modifier ‘soft oak overtones’
      • ‘The wine is soft yet juicy with sweet fruit concentration, well-handled oak and a smoky, tapering finish.’
      • ‘Rich with cherry flavours and toasted oak but incredibly light and soft.’
      • ‘Apart from oak, Chardonnay has many other influences on its complexity of flavours.’
      • ‘This is firm and smoky, with a good backbone, toasty American oak and piercing cassis fruit.’
      • ‘John's red wines are always beautifully made with soft tannins and integrated oak.’
    2. 1.2Australian Used in names of other trees or plants that resemble the oaks in some way, e.g. she-oak, silky oak.
      • ‘Johnson helped shovel a final layer of soil around a newly planted willow oak.’
      • ‘The most widely used common name for Casuarinaceae species is sheoak or she-oak.’
      • ‘For fall color, Bauer has planted sugar maples and scarlet oaks among the native trees.’
      • ‘She-oak, oak, or casuarina is a family of Australian native trees that produces large quantities of wind-blown pollen.’
      • ‘Grevillea robusta (Grevillea, Australian Silly-Oak, Lacewood) contains similar phenolic compounds to that of poison ivy.’
  • 2the OaksAn annual flat horse race for three-year-old fillies run on Epsom Downs, over the same course as the Derby. It was first run in 1779.

    1. 2.1usually with modifier A flat horse race similar to the Oaks but run on another course.
      ‘the Irish Oaks’
      • ‘Bookmakers were very impressed by the run, however, making Sundrop favourite for next month's Oaks.’
      • ‘The other classic races are The Derby and The Oaks, at Epsom Downs, and the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.’
      • ‘He has a contract with the Jockey Club, both as a registered owner and by virtue of having entered his horse in the Oaks.’
      • ‘The champion, who won both Epsom's Derby and its Oaks, is riding with his customary brilliance and resolve.’
      • ‘What a fascinating and unique contest the Tralee race has turned out to be with two future Oaks winners in contention.’


  • great oaks from little acorns grow

    • proverb Something of small or modest proportions may grow into something very large or impressive.

      • ‘Just as great oaks from little acorns grow, great-group goings-on emerge from small stories of selfish citizens.’
      • ‘‘Great oaks from little acorns grow’ is an adage that is useful in looking at the unqualified success realized in the Portage County, Ohio, horticultural therapy program.’
      • ‘His life is true to the saying ‘Great oaks from little acorns grow.’’
      • ‘‘Great oaks from little acorns grow,’ said Myron, the Chamber's vice president for Asia, ‘and the business community hopes more countries will join in.’’
      • ‘Isn't it amazing how great oaks from little acorns grow.’
  • sport the (or one's) oak

    • (in certain universities) shut the outer door of one's room as a sign that one does not wish to be disturbed.


Old English āc, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch eik and German Eiche.