[bon-sahy, -zahy, bohn-, bon-sahy, -zahy, bohn-]
noun, plural bon·sai.
  1. a tree or shrub that has been dwarfed, as by pruning the roots and pinching, and is grown in a pot or other container and trained to produce a desired shape or effect.
  2. the art or hobby of developing and growing such a plant or plants.

Origin of bonsai

1945–50; < Japanese bon-sai tray planting < Middle Chinese, equivalent to Chinese pén tray + zāi plant, shoot
Can be confusedbanzai bonsai Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bonsai

Contemporary Examples of bonsai

British Dictionary definitions for bonsai


noun plural -sai
  1. the art of growing dwarfed ornamental varieties of trees or shrubs in small shallow pots or trays by selective pruning, etc
  2. a tree or shrub grown by this method

Word Origin for bonsai

C20: Japanese: plant grown in a pot, from bon basin, bowl + sai to plant
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 bonsai

1914, from Japanese bon "basin, pot" + sai "to plant."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper