- any tree belonging to the genus Ailanthus, of the quassia family, especially A. altissima, widely grown in cities.
Compare tree of heaven.
Origin of ailanthus
1788; < New Latin Ailantus, Ailanthus (th by association with Greek ánthos flower) < Central Moluccan ai lanit(o), ai lanit(e), equivalent to ai tree, wood + lanit sky + -o, -e a definite article
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for ailanthus
Even the ailanthus blossoms had ceased their snow-like dropping.
Max, cigarette in hand, was coming across, under the ailanthus tree.
The ailanthus tree waved in the sunlight before the little house.
The Ailanthus, or "Tree of Heaven," is best raised in this way.Trees of the Northern United States
Austin C. Apgar
She had noticed the day before that the ailanthus was growing dusty.
- an E Asian simaroubaceous deciduous tree, Ailanthus altissima, planted in Europe and North America, having pinnate leaves, small greenish flowers, and winged fruitsAlso called: tree of heaven
C19: New Latin, from native name (in Amboina) ai lanto tree (of) the gods
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
Word Origin and History for ailanthus
"tree of heaven," 1807, Modern Latin, from Amboyna (Malay) ailanto "tree of the gods;" spelling altered by influence of Greek anthos "flower" (see anther).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper