[tuhm-buh l-weed]
  1. any of various plants, as Amaranthus albus, A. graecizans, or the Russian thistle, Salsola kali, whose branching upper parts become detached from the roots and are driven about by the wind.

Origin of tumbleweed

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90; tumble + weed1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tumbleweed

Contemporary Examples of tumbleweed

Historical Examples of tumbleweed

  • They bounced off a cliff, turned over and over like a tumbleweed.

    The Martian Cabal

    Roman Frederick Starzl

  • Every man retrieved his own birds, a matter of some difficulty in the tumbleweed.

    The Killer

    Stewart Edward White

  • The machine lighted as softly on the carpet of tumbleweed as might a fluff of thistle-down.

    The Trail of Conflict

    Emilie Baker Loring

  • The tumbleweed still stirred with every breath of air but everything else was still.

    The Trail of Conflict

    Emilie Baker Loring

  • She wasted time in trying to dip deep enough to get clear of the tumbleweed which floated on top.

    The Trail of Conflict

    Emilie Baker Loring

British Dictionary definitions for tumbleweed


  1. any densely branched plant that breaks off near the ground on withering and is rolled about by the wind, esp one of several amaranths of the western US and Australia
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 tumbleweed

also tumble-weed, 1887, from tumble (v.) + weed (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper