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or banian

[ban-yuh n] /ˈbæn yən/
Also called banyan tree. an East Indian fig tree, Ficus benghalensis, of the mulberry family, having branches that send out adventitious roots to the ground and sometimes cause the tree to spread over a wide area.
Also, bania, baniya.
  1. a Hindu trader or merchant of a particular caste, the rules of which forbid eating flesh.
  2. a loose shirt, jacket, or gown.
Origin of banyan
1590-1600; < Portuguese (perhaps < Arabic) < Gujarati vāṇiyo (singular) or vāṇiyā (plural) member of the merchant caste (compare Prakrit vāṇiaya, Sanskrit vāṇija trader); the tree is said to have taken its name from a particular tree of the species near which merchants had built a booth; source of final nasal uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for banyan
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • When He spread the wide shade of the banyan, He made a tent for the blacks.

    The Hour and the Man Harriet Martineau
  • I need not, therefore, describe the banyan very particularly.

    The Plant Hunters Mayne Reid
  • Others, like the banyan, are among the largest trees of the forest.

    The Plant Hunters Mayne Reid
  • Most of these belong to banyan merchants in Maskat, and are manned by Indian sailors.

    Southern Arabia Theodore Bent
  • We tried also to get them to come to our Church under the shade of the banyan tree.

  • Gradually the group under the banyan tree began to break up.

  • The sepoy sees again his village and feels the shade of the banyan.

    The Secrets of a Kuttite Edward O. Mousley
British Dictionary definitions for banyan


a moraceous tree, Ficus benghalensis, of tropical India and the East Indies, having aerial roots that grow down into the soil forming additional trunks
a member of the Hindu merchant caste of N and W India
a loose-fitting shirt, jacket, or robe, worn originally in India
Word Origin
C16: from Hindi baniyā, from Sanskrit vānija merchant
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for banyan

"Indian fig tree," 1630s, so called in reference to a tree on the Iranian coast of the Persian Gulf under which the Hindu merchants known as banians had built a pagoda. From Sanskrit vanija "merchant."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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