Definition of arbor vitae in English:

arbor vitae

(also arborvitae)


  • 1A North American and eastern Asian evergreen coniferous tree of the cypress family.

    See also white cedar
    • ‘This is the best arbor-vitae for ornamental planting.’
    • ‘It is best known to the public in general, when cultivated for ornamental gardening, as it frequently is, as the arbor vitae, or ‘tree of life.’’
    • ‘I just had large arbor vitaes removed and a dying pin oak.’
    • ‘We removed it, which gave the grass beneath it a fighting chance of living, and planted a line of arbor vitaes between our house and our neighbor's instead.’
    • ‘The church would do well to plant tall arbor vitaes behind this, and perhaps also behind the National Shrine of Saint Gerard to preserve the visual integrity of the monuments against distracting clutter in the background.’
  • 2The arborescent appearance of the white matter in a vertical section of the cerebellum.

    • ‘Because the tissue is highly branched it is called arborvitae.’
    • ‘In the middle of the arborvitae are the cerebellar nuclei.’
    • ‘Anderson also points out the sections of the brain, the arbor vitae (also known as the "tree of life").’


Mid 16th century: from Latin, literally ‘tree of life’, probably with reference to its medicinal use.


arbor vitae

/ˌɑrbər ˈvaɪdi//ˌärbər ˈvīdē/