Definition of tree in US English:


nounPlural trees

  • 1A woody perennial plant, typically having a single stem or trunk growing to a considerable height and bearing lateral branches at some distance from the ground.

    Compare with shrub
    • ‘The house was on a hill and there weren't many trees or hedges to shelter it from the wind.’
    • ‘Unlike many plants that grow in trees, epiphytic orchids are not parasites and don't harm the plants on which they grow.’
    • ‘Some species look like a typical tree, with a single trunk growing from earthbound roots.’
    • ‘He does not believe that only trees which have crossed their natural lifespans are falling down.’
    • ‘As a small child, she once hid for four hours in the branches of a garden tree watching her mother's frantic efforts to find her as the evening turned to dusk.’
    • ‘Each house has a short wall built of bricks with branches of green trees stretching outside the walls.’
    • ‘On either side of the wooden house were the mere structures of two large trees with no leaves visible.’
    • ‘This was especially so in the prairies and plains, where a scarcity of trees made wooden fencing impractical.’
    • ‘He wrapped his wings around himself and then leaned back against the trunk of the tree, watching the ground beneath him.’
    • ‘A branch from the tallest tree, the one at the top tier of the backyard, swung out almost over us.’
    • ‘The avenue was a natural vault, with the denuded branches of old trees arching and lacing overhead.’
    • ‘He then drew an axe from the sack on his back and walked down to the trees to make a wooden stretcher on which to tie the deer's carcass.’
    • ‘In the summer it would be nearly sylvan, and the trees would grow new wood and leaves with branches dropping with fruit.’
    • ‘An advantage of planting deciduous trees is that other plants or small trees can be grown underneath them quite successfully.’
    • ‘Brass snaps impart a utilitarian elegance, and its hook hangs as easily from a bathroom door as from the branches of a baobab tree.’
    • ‘His applications included computing the maximum height a tree can grow.’
    • ‘Branches hang into the village from trees growing outside - trees we used for fresh fruit and safety.’
    • ‘The plum tree in our garden is covered in blossom, as are the trees outside my office window.’
    • ‘There is one painting of a dead cedar tree, with a blackish, twisted upside-down tornado on a warm desert hillside.’
    • ‘At the same time, branch-cutting was encouraged to get the tree to grow a single, main trunk.’
    1. 1.1 (in general use) any bush, shrub, or herbaceous plant with a tall erect stem, e.g. a banana plant.
  • 2A wooden structure or part of a structure.

    1. 2.1archaic, literary The cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.
    2. 2.2archaic A gallows or gibbet.
  • 3A thing that has a branching structure resembling that of a tree.

    • ‘Thus, each device in the tree has pointers to structures for the type of chip and the individual instance of the chip.’
    • ‘All other trees based on different algorithms gave similar results.’
    • ‘Each level in the tree is represented in a buffer, and you can manipulate Customize buffers as usual.’
    • ‘However, this code will change the structure of the document tree.’
    • ‘XML documents are trees, which should ring a bell for those of you who studied computer science in college.’
    • ‘Conversation is done using a hyperlink tree, and navigation through the topics is relatively easy.’
    • ‘As you build up the GUI, the design tree reflects the widget hierarchy.’
    • ‘We then add our own RPMs to the tree, modify the various control structures in the tree and cut a CD.’
    • ‘Then we write the contents of welcome, which contains a DOM tree, to the HTTP response object.’
    • ‘It would be interesting to get data on how widespread the practice of parallel source code trees is outside the Linux project.’
    • ‘A computer can only wander blindly along the branches of the search tree, until it stumbles across a sequence of moves that may prove beneficial.’
    • ‘To this point, we have discussed the learning of qualitative models represented as qualitative trees.’
    • ‘Both structure-based trees are moderately resolved with very short internal branches.’
    • ‘Thick vertical lines along the species tree indicate taxa whose P elements are not monophyletic.’
    • ‘A tree is an organizational structure that has some useful properties for that purpose.’
    • ‘Several methods are used here to help understand the similarity of trees from different data sets.’
    1. 3.1 A diagram with a structure of branching connecting lines, representing different processes and relationships.
      • ‘Another representation of population relationships is a tree diagram based on genetic distances.’
      • ‘It is famously understood that Darwin used a tree diagram to represent evolutionary relationships.’
      • ‘These measures are based on the structure of the product trees for different brands.’
      • ‘This growth pattern tends to make the tableau look like a tree diagram or organizational chart.’
      • ‘In the diagram below, the dashed lines in the tree are the problem: do they branch exactly as shown?’
      • ‘The phylogenetic tree shows the genealogical relationships among nine eukaryotes.’
      • ‘It gets a bit clumsy showing the generational relationships with brackets - a tree diagram gives a clearer picture as the generations continue.’
      • ‘Figure 4 displays the outcome in a classification tree diagram.’
      • ‘The birth-death process tends to generate trees with long internal branches.’
      • ‘It differs from glottochronology in the methods used to construct the tree and compute the dates.’
      • ‘I adapted the tree diagram into something approximating a bowl of chicken noodle soup.’
      • ‘Some of you may remember Acts One, Two and Three of this drama which began with the Townhouse Owners Association meeting and ended with me sitting in front of the computer doing a tree diagram of the property in Photoshop.’

verbtrees, treed, treeing

[with object]
  • 1North American Force (a hunted animal) to take refuge in a tree.

    • ‘Old Dan and Little Ann were chasing a coon when they finally treed it.’
    • ‘But when you finally drag yourself up to where the lion is treed, it's a spectacular sight.’
    • ‘The Pritchard boys tell Billy to just give up, as no dog has ever treed the coon, but Billy refuses: ‘I told them I wasn't giving up until my dogs did.’’
    • ‘Ain't never been caught, he ain't ever been treed.’
    • ‘He treed the bruin with the aid of a greenhorn companion.’
    • ‘Billy knows this is not true, because his dogs have only treed three coons in one night.’
    • ‘Hunting dogs have an easier time treeing a raccoon than forcing it out of a burrow.’
    • ‘He was treed by bloodhounds in the swamp on the outskirts of my holdings.’
    • ‘Last week residents of midtown Palo Alto, California, were warned of a cougar on the prowl in their neighborhood, where another big cat was treed and shot last May.’
    • ‘They have a coon treed and it is a good thing, because Billy needs one more coon to win the hunt.’
    • ‘In this arresting poem, she describes treeing a raccoon at night and capturing it on film.’
    • ‘Not only had it gone a long time without treeing, but its prints were unusually large and oddly shaped.’
    1. 1.1US informal Force (someone) into a difficult situation.
      • ‘Then the original cat treed him up the kitchen chair.’
      • ‘I want that filthy vamp found, treed, and worried to bits!’
  • 2as adjective treed(of an area) planted with trees.

    ‘sparsely treed grasslands’
    • ‘A forest fire in a thickly treed area of Cypress Bowl in West Vancouver broke out on July 1.’
    • ‘In time the word shed its literal association with thick vegetation and was applied generally to any country, open or treed, beyond the settled coast.’
    • ‘We hunted and hunted and finally found him playing in the dirt in the treed field.’
    • ‘The property itself is very well treed providing a lovely haven for our feathered friends.’
    • ‘No part of the treed yard got more than three hours of sun.’
    • ‘The irregular mosaic of small fields below looked almost universally dry, with the heavily treed hedgerows picked out in a dark green reminiscent of much later in the summer.’
    • ‘I backtracked a mile to a treed flat along the river that looked like a good campsite.’
    • ‘Instead the parking garage, which was originally going to be a flat, treed space for 120 cars, will now cater for 300 cars.’
    • ‘I headed up the granite and pine treed north shore of Lake Rosseau.’
    • ‘All areas that were naturally treed have lost about 30 percent of their canopy cover in the last 25 years.’
    • ‘Well over half of the terrain is steep and lightly treed - perfect for off-piste riding in the pow.’
    • ‘It was a very small island, but well treed.’
    • ‘He explains that finding suitable locations for disc golf is a challenge because they prefer heavily treed, undulating areas, most of which are in the river valley.’
    • ‘They expect to find the whole area intensely wooded, unaware that the word originally meant an area of land, wild, uncultivated and largely treed.’
    • ‘On a wide coastal plain, a broad river with sparsely treed grasslands on either side meandered towards the foothills.’
    • ‘The view seems idyllic - a broad expanse of glistening lake under a big blue sky, surrounded by treed shoreline.’
    • ‘It takes 40 minutes to drive to the beach or 35 minutes to get to Kyogle's green, shady, treed public pool that caters for toddlers.’
    • ‘I can't take much more altitude lost as I'm down to 2,600 ' not far above the treed hillside.’
    • ‘Elizabeth stood on the deck and looked out, beyond the nursery, across the flats, to the sloping hills, all treed and dotted with houses.’
    • ‘The neglected backyard is below, and to its left are the neighbouring gardens and the posh houses and treed and bushed gardens beyond.’


  • be unable to see the forest for the trees

    • Fail to grasp the main issue because of excessive attention to details.

  • out of one's tree

    • informal Completely stupid; insane.

      • ‘He served us very well as a player but anyone who would even contemplate his appointment has to be out of his tree.’
      • ‘There he was, completely out of his tree, looking like he'd been dragged through a sewer.’
      • ‘They get bored out of their tree and they have nowhere to go.’
      • ‘I get in the backseat, between a trooper and the president, and there's two more in the front seat and I'm stoned out of my tree and we're going to identify Mary Martin's body.’
      • ‘He would never do anything else except weekends when we'd go party and he would get gooned out of his tree!’
      • ‘At least, I don't imagine he's been sitting at home, bored out of his tree this whole time.’
      • ‘The host's girlfriend is spectacularly out of her tree and makes no sense whatsoever, but is easily the most entertaining person present.’
      • ‘You can tell a mile off, from the above description, that the chances are that this man will be entirely out of his tree.’
      • ‘Now, if you are thinking I'm really out of my tree, just hang on, there is a qualifier at the end of the article.’
      • ‘Be prepared to be bored out of your tree for three whole hours.’
  • up a tree

    • informal In a difficult situation without escape; cornered.

      • ‘My favorite explanation of the three-act structure is this: In the first act, you get your hero up a tree.’


Old English trēow, trēo: from a Germanic variant of an Indo-European root shared by Greek doru ‘wood, spear’, drus ‘oak’.