• synonyms


  1. any gymnospermous plant of the order Cycadales, intermediate in appearance between ferns and the palms, many species having a thick, unbranched, columnar trunk bearing a crown of large, leathery, pinnate leaves.
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Origin of cycad

1835–45; < New Latin Cycad- (stem of Cycas) genus name < Greek kýkas, misspelling of kóïkas, accusative plural of kóïx kind of palm
Related formscy·cad·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cycad

Historical Examples of cycad

  • Palms are so like cycads that we may regard them as the descendants of some cycad type.

    The Elements of Geology

    William Harmon Norton

  • The anatomy of the main stem is very suggestive of that of a Cycad.

    Ancient Plants

    Marie C. Stopes

  • But the most frequent and characteristic tree of the Jurassic landscape is the cycad.

  • Cycad, sī′kad, n. an order allied to Conifer, but in appearance rather resembling ferns and palms.

  • There has been found at Luccombe a very remarkable fruit of a kind of cycad.

British Dictionary definitions for cycad


  1. any tropical or subtropical gymnosperm plant of the phylum Cycadophyta, having an unbranched stem with fernlike leaves crowded at the topSee also sago palm (def. 2)
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Derived Formscycadaceous, adjective

Word Origin for cycad

C19: from New Latin Cycas name of genus, from Greek kukas, scribe's error for koïkas, from koïx a kind of palm, probably of Egyptian origin
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 cycad


1845, Modern Latin, from Greek kykas, a word found in Theophrastus, but now thought to be a scribal error for koikas "palm trees," accusative plural of koix, a word from an unknown non-Greek language.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cycad in Science


  1. Any of various evergreen plants that live in tropical and subtropical regions, have large feathery leaves, and resemble palm trees in that most leaves cluster around the top of the stem. Cycads are gymnosperms that bear conelike reproductive structures at the top of the stem, with male and female cones borne on different plants. Cycads were common in many parts of the Earth during the Jurassic Period and survive today in about 250 species. Sago palms are cycads.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.