noun, plural i·vies.
  1. Also called English ivy. a climbing vine, Hedera helix, having smooth, shiny, evergreen leaves, small, yellowish flowers, and black berries, grown as an ornamental.
  2. any of various other climbing or trailing plants.
  1. (often initial capital letter) Ivy League(def 2).
  2. New England. mountain laurel.

Origin of ivy

before 900; Middle English ivi; Old English ifig; akin to German Efeu
Related formsi·vy·like, adjective


  1. a female given name.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ivy


noun plural ivies
  1. any woody climbing or trailing araliaceous plant of the Old World genus Hedera, esp H. helix, having lobed evergreen leaves and black berry-like fruits
  2. any of various other climbing or creeping plants, such as Boston ivy, poison ivy, and ground ivy
Derived Formsivy-like, adjective

Word Origin for ivy

Old English īfig; related to Old High German ebah, perhaps to Greek iphuon a 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 ivy

Old English ifig, from West Germanic *ibakhs (cf. Middle Low German iflof, Dutch eiloof, Old High German ebahewi, German Efeu), of unknown origin; the second element in the Old High German word might be "hay."

Ivy bush as a sign of a tavern where wine is served is attested from mid-15c. Ivy League, inspired by the notion of old, ivy-coated walls, dates to 1933 (perhaps originally in reference to football; it consists of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper