Main definitions of prune in English

: prune1prune2

prune1

noun

  • 1A plum preserved by drying and having a black, wrinkled appearance.

    • ‘Also on offer: quail with pecans and nuts, rabbit with prunes and cumin, beef tortillas, delicious sweet potato and nicely seasoned rice.’
    • ‘Sneak some raisins or puréed prunes or zucchini into whole-wheat pancakes.’
    • ‘Each is studded with liquor-soaked prunes, adding soft, sweet little bites that meld perfectly with intense dark chocolate.’
    • ‘This time I had semi-dried black figs, large white figs, prunes, mirabelles (a kind of plum), and pears, all of which are from France.’
    • ‘However, just as raisins seem different from grapes, so do prunes appear to be distinct from plums.’
    • ‘European plums have a thick, firm flesh that make excellent prunes, preserves, or desert fruit.’
    • ‘I like the concept of this recipe. It's beef and lamb but the spices are cinnamon and ginger and pepper and there's dried prunes and apricots in it too.’
    • ‘Otherwise, I'll prepare my own crunchy muesli by mixing prunes or apricot, honey, lemon and cloves with low-fat yogurt.’
    • ‘From a nutritional perspective, prunes are like raisins.’
  • 2informal An unpleasant or disagreeable person:

    ‘he was a good leader, but a right miserable old prune’
    • ‘Even pathetic old prunes have their moment in the glare of the gossip mags’
    • ‘McGregor has some good company: that miserable old prune Hugh Morgan (another complete AO) is also a distinguished fellow.’
    • ‘I had to put up with all these melodramatic old prunes (not just older people, but people of my own age as well) saying that my life was over, and oh, i would never be able to do my degree and get a good job, and oh, it is such a shame!’
    • ‘And no, I'm not turning into some old prune who never wears make-up and who lives in trackie-bottoms.’
    • ‘‘Give me that,’ Corie said to Mrs Mood, snatching the paper away from the old prune.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French, via Latin from Greek prou(m)non plum.

Pronunciation:

prune

/pruːn/

Main definitions of prune in English

: prune1prune2

prune2

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1 Trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to encourage growth:

    ‘now is the time to prune roses’
    [no object] ‘to limit growth, prune in summer’
    • ‘As a general rule, prune when a tree is naturally under the least amount of stress, usually before the main growing season.’
    • ‘And prune plants to the ground after the first frost, even if foliage is not damaged.’
    • ‘For instance, apple trees flower on wood several years old, so you would prune the tree only to strengthen the fruit-bearing branches.’
    • ‘When cleaning out the dead debris from flowerbeds, also prune any shrubs and push plants back into the soil that have heaved with the frosts.’
    • ‘Ideally, you should start pruning your tree to limit its size before it reaches full size.’
    • ‘The best time to prune is just after flowering has ended.’
    • ‘For early blooming shrubs such as forsythia and viburnum, prune them as soon as blooms have passed.’
    • ‘Over the last 12 months we have spent a great deal of time pruning and thinning overgrown shrubs in both the front and back garden.’
    • ‘Lightly prune young magnolias after they flower to encourage a pyramidal shape.’
    • ‘It is illegal to clear development sites, carry out roofing work, treat timber or prune hedges or trees if nests are present.’
    • ‘For example, prune shrubs once a year after flowering for maximum effect.’
    • ‘Do not prune either streptosolen or fuchsia, for they bloom in winter on growth started in early fall.’
    • ‘Repot root-bound houseplants and prune any that are looking very ragged.’
    • ‘Gently prune large, slow-growing shrubs such as witch hazel, magnolia and Japanese maple.’
    • ‘Pinch back or tip prune to encourage branches as well as shorten long streamers later in the growing season.’
    • ‘Be sure and wait to prune shrubs that flower on last year's growth after they bloom.’
    • ‘I pruned the rose bushes and gave them a good soaking - it has been a dry winter.’
    • ‘Also prune to shape overgrown hedges and spring-flowering vines and shrubs after they bloom.’
    • ‘Late February is an optimum time to prune trees and shrubs in your landscape.’
    • ‘In the late morning and all afternoon we worked outside, R clearing and tidying flower beds, pruning shrubs and potting up some flowers.’
    cut back, trim, thin, thin out, pinch back, crop, clip, shear, pollard, top, dock
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Cut away (a branch or stem) from a tree, shrub, etc.:
      ‘prune back the branches’
      • ‘Better to train it against a wall, tying the main stems to wires and pruning back all side branches to within two buds of the main framework each summer.’
      • ‘To redirect growth, prune back to a side branch that is growing in a more desirable direction.’
      • ‘Plants such as fucshias should be pruned back fairly hard now or at least before new side shoots become established.’
      • ‘Should I prune back the bare top branches to stimulate growth?’
      • ‘Feed the camellia with a multi-purpose fertiliser with balanced NPK and prune out any weak growth or dead branches, leaving only the strongest.’
      • ‘And today, Coun Kate Hollern, who heads Blackburn with Darwen Council, pledged to ensure staff prune back trees in parks and other authority-owned public spaces.’
      • ‘Remove old, weak branches at ground level, and prune out any dying shoots or branches that are taking off in awkward directions.’
      • ‘But if you prune back hard or after the tree leafs out in spring, it may be slower to come into bloom that year.’
      • ‘This tree can still be saved, but there will be a large scar on the stem when the upright branches are pruned off.’
      • ‘Infected branches must be pruned out early and destroyed if the tree is to be saved.’
      • ‘More compact plants result when long branches are pruned back to their junction at a lateral branch during early spring.’
      • ‘In winter, prune back laterals that are produced to within 24 inches of the main canes.’
      • ‘Later, if you wish to do a little shaping, prune back to a growth bud pointing in the direction you want a stem to grow.’
      • ‘When planting a bare-root tree, prune away enough branches to balance the top with roots lost when the tree was dug.’
      • ‘After flowering, prune branches back hard, to the edge of the container or basket, to shape.’
      • ‘If your plant is healthy, you can prune back to a foot or two with no ill effects.’
      • ‘You may also need to prune back live branches that are getting out of control.’
      • ‘The remaining branches can be pruned hard back in early spring when the new shoots begin to show.’
      • ‘The willows overhanging it discard huge branches which should have been pruned back years ago.’
      • ‘Time to prune back your large, late-flowering hybrid clematis plants.’
      cut off, chop off, hack off, clip, nip off, dock, sever, detach, remove
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Reduce the extent of (something) by removing superfluous or unwanted parts:
      ‘the workforce was pruned’
      • ‘So unless top-line targets are met, the cost base is pruned to compensate.’
      • ‘Acting quickly, Bern closed underperforming stores, pruned the work force, expanded product lines and revised the merchandising strategy.’
      • ‘The coalition will be working very hard over the next few months to prune expenditure to bring down this tax rise. The process has already started.’
      • ‘Every day he works on it a little more, pruning the chapters, getting the facts straight, tightening the prose.’
      • ‘With the emphasis now being placed on attracting younger players, the need for reserve football is becoming a thing of the past and clubs are pruning their playing staff accordingly.’
      • ‘It should be hoped that the decision on pruning the ministry will not be delayed further and a bill in this regard will be brought forward during the forthcoming session of the legislature.’
      reduce, cut, cut back, cut down, cut back on, pare, pare down, slim down, make reductions in, make cutbacks in, trim, whittle away, whittle down, salami-slice, decrease, diminish, axe, shrink, minimize
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Remove (superfluous or unwanted parts) from something:
      ‘Eliot deliberately pruned away details’
      • ‘Costs were cut, younger managers encouraged and deadwood pruned away with early retirement.’
      • ‘And several bright ideas scattered here and there that never quite worked have been pruned away.’

noun

  • [in singular] An instance of trimming a tree, shrub, or bush:

    ‘they need little care other than an annual prune’
    • ‘Unless he can find someone to lease them very soon he will give the trees a minimal prune and basic spray programme to grow apples for processing next season.’
    • ‘If you haven't pruned give it a prune, and remove foliage but not new buds.’
    • ‘As the weather starts to warm and spring is just around the corner, roses, and shrubs may need a prune.’
    • ‘They prefer sun or semi shade and a good annual prune to keep them compact and bushy.’
    • ‘These are usually the more delicate plants such as Clematis viticella, which are best with an annual light prune followed by hard pruning every ten years.’

Origin

Late 15th century (in the sense ‘abbreviate’): from Old French pro(o)ignier, possibly based on Latin rotundus round.

Pronunciation:

prune

/pruːn/