• synonyms


or ban·ian

[ban-yuh n]
  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-tree

Historical Examples of banyan-tree

  • The banyan-tree is the most enterprising trunk-maker I ever heard of.

    A Jolly Fellowship

    Frank R. Stockton

  • In the banyan-tree behind the house, high up, in the top branches.

    The Hidden Force

    Louis Couperus

  • If its extended branches reëntered the soil it would be like the Asiatic banyan-tree.

    The Story of Malta

    Maturin M. Ballou

  • So the Deer, charmed at his reception, ate grass and drank water, and laid himself down in the shade of a Banyan-tree to talk.

    Hindu Literature

    Epiphanius Wilson

  • On one of the pillars of that Stūpa elephants are carved in the act of worshipping both the Pīpal-tree and the Banyan-tree.

British Dictionary definitions for banyan-tree



  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 for banyan

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-tree



"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