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banyan

or ban·ian

[ban-yuh n]
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noun
  1. 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.
  2. Also bania, baniya. (in India)
    1. a Hindu trader or merchant of a particular caste, the rules of which forbid eating flesh.
    2. a loose shirt, jacket, or gown.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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.

  • Others, like the banyan, are among the largest trees of the forest.

  • 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.


British Dictionary definitions for banyan

banyan

banian

noun
  1. a moraceous tree, Ficus benghalensis, of tropical India and the East Indies, having aerial roots that grow down into the soil forming additional trunks
  2. a member of the Hindu merchant caste of N and W India
  3. a loose-fitting shirt, jacket, or robe, worn originally in India
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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

Word Origin and History for banyan

n.

"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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper