the altitude above sea level at which timber ceases to grow.
the arctic or antarctic limit of tree growth.

Origin of timberline

An Americanism dating back to 1865–70; timber + line1
Also called tree line, tree·line [tree-lahyn] /ˈtriˌlaɪn/.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for timberline

Historical Examples of timberline

  • But there were trees on all the lower slopes, and there was not really a timberline.

    The Pirates of Ersatz

    Murray Leinster

  • A haystack sheltered against a cliff was found at timberline.

  • Already weak, they did not get down to timberline the first day.

  • The other is found here and there well up toward the edge of the timberline.

    Steep Trails

    John Muir

  • In another ten minutes they would be above the timberline and the full force of the storm would hit them.

British Dictionary definitions for timberline



the altitudinal or latitudinal limit of normal tree growthSee also tree line
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 timberline

1867, from timber + line (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

timberline in Science



A geographic boundary beyond which trees cannot grow. On the Earth as a whole, the timberline is the northernmost or southernmost latitude at which trees can survive; in a mountainous region, it is the highest elevation at which trees can survive. Also called tree line
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.