Definition of hornbeam in US English:



  • A deciduous tree of north temperate regions, with oval serrated leaves, inconspicuous drooping flowers, and tough winged nuts. It yields hard pale timber.

    Genera Carpinus and Ostrya, family Betulaceae: several species, including the American hornbeam (C. caroliniana), the eastern (or hop) hornbeam (O. virginiana), and the European hornbeam (C. betulus)

    • ‘He gives four options for the future of the hornbeams: remove the trees and replace them with a more suitable species; phase out the trees by removing two now and the remaining two five years later; thin the trees out or do nothing.’
    • ‘The forest has little undergrowth and is mainly composed of beech and pine, interspersed with a few oaks and hornbeams.’
    • ‘In addition you can expect to see rare species of hornbeam, Douglas fir and black gum, and a well-forested block of South Colorado Street.’
    • ‘But what is interesting for visitors is that the garden is still evolving: a gravel garden with silver plants is surrounded by a cloister of youthful hornbeams.’
    • ‘There was a weeping wisteria and a massive hornbeam tree, where we built a tree house.’


Late Middle English: so named because of the tree's hard, close-grained wood.