[plant, plahnt]
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  1. any member of the kingdom Plantae, comprising multicellular organisms that typically produce their own food from inorganic matter by the process of photosynthesis and that have more or less rigid cell walls containing cellulose, including vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, and hornworts: some classification schemes may include fungi, algae, bacteria, blue-green algae, and certain single-celled eukaryotes that have plantlike qualities, as rigid cell walls or photosynthesis.
  2. an herb or other small vegetable growth, in contrast with a tree or a shrub.
  3. a seedling or a growing slip, especially one ready for transplanting.
  4. the equipment, including the fixtures, machinery, tools, etc., and often the buildings, necessary to carry on any industrial business: a manufacturing plant.
  5. the complete equipment or apparatus for a particular mechanical process or operation: the heating plant for a home.
  6. the buildings, equipment, etc., of an institution: the sprawling plant of the university.
  7. Slang. something intended to trap, decoy, or lure, as criminals.
  8. Slang. a scheme to trap, trick, swindle, or defraud.
  9. a person, placed in an audience, whose rehearsed or prepared reactions, comments, etc., appear spontaneous to the rest of the audience.
  10. a person placed secretly in a group or organization, as by a foreign government, to obtain internal or secret information, stir up discontent, etc.
  11. Theater. a line of dialogue, or a character, action, etc., introducing an idea or theme that will be further developed at a later point in the play: Afterward we remembered the suicide plant in the second act.
verb (used with object)
  1. to put or set in the ground for growth, as seeds, young trees, etc.
  2. to furnish or stock (land) with plants: to plant a section with corn.
  3. to establish or implant (ideas, principles, doctrines, etc.): to plant a love for learning in growing children.
  4. to introduce (a breed of animals) into a country.
  5. to deposit (young fish, or spawn) in a river, lake, etc.
  6. to bed (oysters).
  7. to insert or set firmly in or on the ground or some other body or surface: to plant posts along a road.
  8. Theater. to insert or place (an idea, person, or thing) in a play.
  9. to place; put.
  10. to place with great force, firmness, or determination: He planted himself in the doorway as if daring us to try to enter. He planted a big kiss on his son's cheek.
  11. to station; post: to plant a police officer on every corner.
  12. to locate; situate: Branch stores are planted all over.
  13. to establish (a colony, city, etc.); found.
  14. to settle (persons), as in a colony.
  15. to say or place (something) in order to obtain a desired result, especially one that will seem spontaneous: The police planted the story in the newspaper in order to trap the thief.
  16. Carpentry. to nail, glue, or otherwise attach (a molding or the like) to a surface.
  17. to place (a person) secretly in a group to function as a spy or to promote discord.
  18. Slang. to hide or conceal, as stolen goods.

Origin of plant

before 900; (noun) Middle English plaunte; in part continuing Old English plante sapling, young plant (< Latin planta); in part (< Old French plante) < Latin planta a shoot, sprig, scion (for planting), plant; (v.) Middle English plaunten; in part continuing Old English plantian (< Latin plantāre); in part (< Old French planter) < Latin plantāre to plant
Related formsplant·a·ble, adjectiveplant·less, adjectiveplant·like, adjectivemis·plant, verb (used with object)o·ver·plant, verb (used with object)pre·plant, verb (used with object)self-plant·ed, adjectivesub·plant, nounun·der·plant, verb (used with object)un·plant·a·ble, adjectiveun·plant·ed, adjectivewell-plant·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for plant

Contemporary Examples of plant

Historical Examples of plant

British Dictionary definitions for plant


  1. any living organism that typically synthesizes its food from inorganic substances, possesses cellulose cell walls, responds slowly and often permanently to a stimulus, lacks specialized sense organs and nervous system, and has no powers of locomotion
  2. such an organism that is green, terrestrial, and smaller than a shrub or tree; a herb
  3. a cutting, seedling, or similar structure, esp when ready for transplantation
  4. informal a thing positioned secretly for discovery by another, esp in order to incriminate an innocent person
  5. billiards snooker a position in which the cue ball can be made to strike an intermediate which then pockets another ball
verb (tr)
  1. (often foll by out) to set (seeds, crops, etc) into (ground) to grow
  2. to place firmly in position
  3. to establish; found
  4. to implant in the mind
  5. slang to deliver (a blow)
  6. informal to position or hide, esp in order to deceive or observe
  7. to place (young fish, oysters, spawn, etc) in (a lake, river, etc) in order to stock the water
See also plant out
Derived Formsplantable, adjectiveplantlike, adjective

Word Origin for plant

Old English, from Latin planta a shoot, cutting


    1. the land, buildings, and equipment used in carrying on an industrial, business, or other undertaking or service
    2. (as modifier)plant costs
  1. a factory or workshop
  2. mobile mechanical equipment for construction, road-making, etc

Word Origin for plant

C20: special use of plant 1
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 plant

Old English plante "young tree or shrub, herb newly planted," from Latin planta "sprout, shoot, cutting" (source of Spanish planta, French plante), perhaps from *plantare "to drive in with the feet, push into the ground with the feet," from planta "sole of the foot," from nasalized form of PIE *plat- "to spread, flat" (see place (n.)).

Broader sense of "any vegetable life, vegetation generally" is first recorded 1550s. Most extended usages are from the verb, on the notion of "something planted;" e.g. "construction for an industrial process," 1789, at first with reference to the set-up of machinery, later also the building; also slang meaning "a spy" (1812). Many of these follow similar developments in the French form of the word. German Pflanz, Irish cland, Welsh plant are from Latin.


"put in the ground to grow," Old English plantian, from Latin plantare (see plant (n.)). Reinforced by cognate Old French planter. Without reference to growing, "to insert firmly," late 14c. Of colonies from c.1300. Figuratively, of ideas, etc., from early 15c. Meaning "to bury" is U.S. slang from U.S., 1855. Related: Planted; planting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

plant in Science


  1. Any of a wide variety of multicellular eukaryotic organisms, belonging to the kingdom Plantae and including the bryophytes and vascular plants. Plant cells have cell walls made of cellulose. Except for a few specialized symbionts, plants have chlorophyll and manufacture their own food through photosynthesis. Most plants grow in a fixed location and reproduce sexually, showing an alternation of generations between a diploid stage (with each cell having two sets of chromosomes) and haploid stage (with each cell having one set of chromosomes) in their life cycle. The first fossil plants date from the Silurian period. Formerly the algae, slime molds, dinoflagellates, and fungi, among other groups, were classified as plants, but now these are considered to belong to other kingdoms. See Table at taxonomy.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.