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See more synonyms for shrub on Thesaurus.com
  1. a woody plant smaller than a tree, usually having multiple permanent stems branching from or near the ground.
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Origin of shrub1

before 1000; Middle English shrubbe, Old English scrybb brushwood; cognate with dialectal Danish skrub
Related formsshrub·less, adjectiveshrub·like, adjective


  1. any of various acidulated beverages made from the juice of fruit, sugar, and other ingredients, often including alcohol.
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Origin of shrub2

1740–50; < Arabic, metathetic variant of shurb drink; see sherbet
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shrub

Historical Examples

  • A low tree, or usually merely a shrub, from Japan; often cultivated.

    Trees of the Northern United States

    Austin C. Apgar

  • A shrub rather than a tree, cultivated from Siberia; hardy throughout.

  • Nearly every tree and shrub that will grow in this climate is here to be found.

  • The shrub grows wild on elevations between 1000 and 4000 feet.

    The Hawaiian Islands

    The Department of Foreign Affairs

  • Marie stooped to pluck a flower, and slipped behind the shrub.

    The Traitors

    E. Phillips (Edward Phillips) Oppenheim

British Dictionary definitions for shrub


  1. a woody perennial plant, smaller than a tree, with several major branches arising from near the base of the main stem
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Derived Formsshrublike, adjective

Word Origin

Old English scrybb; related to Middle Low German schrubben coarse, uneven, Old Swedish skrubba to scrub 1


  1. a mixed drink of rum, fruit juice, sugar, and spice
  2. mixed fruit juice, sugar, and spice made commercially to be mixed with rum or other spirits
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Word Origin

C18: from Arabic sharāb, variant of shurb drink; see sherbet
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 shrub


Old English scrybb "brushwood, shrubbery," a rare and late word (but preserved also, perhaps, in Shrewsbury), possibly from a Scandinavian source (cf. dialectal Danish skrub "brushwood," Norwegian skrubba "dwarf tree"). Presumably related to North Frisian skrobb "broom plant, brushwood;" West Flemish schrobbe "climbing wild pea," with a base notion of "rough plant," from PIE *(s)kerb-, extended form of root *(s)ker- (1) "to cut" (see shear (v.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

shrub in Science


  1. A woody plant that is smaller than a tree, usually having several stems rather than a single trunk; a bush.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.