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[kuh-tal-puh] /kəˈtæl pə/
any of several trees constituting the genus Catalpa, of the bignonia family, especially C. speciosa, of the central U.S., or C. bignonioides, of the southern U.S., having opposite, sometimes whorled leaves, clusters of white flowers, and long, beanlike seed pods.
Also called Indian bean.
Origin of catalpa
1720-30, Americanism; (< New Latin) < Creek katałpa, equivalent to ka-, combining form of iká head + tałpa wing (apparently so called from the shape of the flower) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for catalpa
Historical Examples
  • catalpa is a tree singularly free from destructive diseases.

    Seasoning of Wood Joseph B. Wagner
  • The leaves of a catalpa, across the roadway, hung motionless.

  • And, David, tea under the catalpa, as we always do on fine nights.

  • I am not the man you knew—except in loving you I am not the man who sat with you beneath the catalpa.

    Lewis Rand

    Mary Johnston
  • As she walked ankle-deep in the unclipped grass under the catalpa and elm-trees, she looked around with eager interest.


    Edna Turpin
  • A swirl of dust laden with the scent of the catalpa blew up from the street.

  • The Indian then gently supported him, and seated him against the trunk of the catalpa, at whose foot he had been hitherto lying.

    The Prairie Flower Gustave Aimard
  • These flowers, which resemble the blossom of the catalpa, constitute one of the crests of the Mikado of Japan.

  • They like white and yellow jessamine, too, and catalpa flowers and lilies and acacia blossoms.

    When Grandmamma Was New Marion Harland
  • Probably ninety per cent of all the catalpa ever cut has gone into fence posts.

    American Forest Trees

    Henry H. Gibson
British Dictionary definitions for catalpa


any bignoniaceous tree of the genus Catalpa of North America and Asia, having large leaves, bell-shaped whitish flowers, and long slender pods
Word Origin
C18: New Latin, from Carolina Creek kutuhlpa, literally: winged head, referring to the appearance of the flowers
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 catalpa

c.1740, from an American Indian language of the Carolinas, perhaps Creek (Muskogean) /katalpa/, literally "head-wing."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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