[ wil-oh ]
See synonyms for willow on Thesaurus.com
  1. any tree or shrub of the genus Salix, characterized by narrow, lance-shaped leaves and dense catkins bearing small flowers, many species having tough, pliable twigs or branches used for wickerwork, etc.: Compare willow family.

  2. the wood of any of these trees.

  1. Informal. something, especially a cricket bat, made of willow wood.

  2. Also called willower, willy. a machine consisting essentially of a cylinder armed with spikes revolving within a spiked casing, for opening and cleaning cotton or other fiber.

verb (used with object)
  1. to treat (textile fibers) with a willow.

Origin of willow

First recorded before 900; Middle English wilwe, variant of wilghe, Old English welig; cognate with Old Saxon wilgia, Dutch wilg, Low German wilge

Other words from willow

  • wil·low·like, adjective
  • wil·low·ish, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use willow in a sentence

  • On these shallows water-loving plants and even certain trees, such as the willows and poplars, find a foothold.

    Outlines of the Earth's History | Nathaniel Southgate Shaler

British Dictionary definitions for willow (1 of 2)


/ (ˈwɪləʊ) /

  1. any of numerous salicaceous trees and shrubs of the genus Salix, such as the weeping willow and osiers of N temperate regions, which have graceful flexible branches, flowers in catkins, and feathery seeds

  2. the whitish wood of certain of these trees

  1. something made of willow wood, such as a cricket or baseball bat

  2. a machine having a system of revolving spikes for opening and cleaning raw textile fibres

Origin of willow

Old English welig; related to wilige wicker basket, Old Saxon wilgia, Middle High German wilge, Greek helikē willow, helix twisted

Derived forms of willow

  • willowish or willow-like, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for Willow (2 of 2)


  1. a small town in S Alaska, about 113 km (70 miles) northwest of Anchorage: chosen as the site of the projected new state capital in 1976, a plan which never came to fruition. Pop: 1658 (2000)

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