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[sap-ling] /ˈsæp lɪŋ/
a young tree.
a young person.
Origin of sapling
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English; see sap1, -ling1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for sapling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They got ashore, and fastened the painter to a sapling on the bank, because it was not long enough to go round a pile.

    Two Knapsacks John Campbell
  • A sapling was cut off so that the stump of a limb was left at the bottom of it.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • I'll break that there sapling off an' make you a stick to help walk on.

    Dorothy Evelyn Raymond
  • Then, taking the sapling out of my hand, he plucked it up and flung it away.

    The Quadroon Mayne Reid
  • Trees should be dropped so that they will not crush young seedlings and sapling growth as they fall.

    The School Book of Forestry Charles Lathrop Pack
  • But he soon reappeared with a sapling he had cut with his pocket-knife.

  • When they pushed the sapling over, a piece of bark as big as the crown of Freckles' hat fell away.

    Freckles Gene Stratton-Porter
  • It's no easy to straucht in the oak the crook that grew in the sapling.

    The Proverbs of Scotland Alexander Hislop
  • Heyward tore the weapon of Magua from the sapling, and rushed eagerly toward the fray.

    The Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper
British Dictionary definitions for sapling


a young tree
(literary) a youth
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 sapling

early 14c., from sap (n.1) + diminutive suffix -ling. This probably is the source of American English slang sap (n.3) "club, short staff" (1899) and the verb sap (v.2) "to hit (someone) with a sap" (1926).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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