- any of several evergreen, coniferous trees and shrubs of the genera Taxus and Torreya, constituting the family Taxaceae, of the Old World, North America, and Japan, having needlelike or scalelike foliage and seeds enclosed in a fleshy aril.
- the fine-grained, elastic wood of any of these trees.
- an archer's bow made of this wood.
- this tree or its branches as a symbol of sorrow, death, or resurrection.
Origin of yew1
Examples from the Web for yew
The needles of the yew tree can kill you, but the bark is important for many modern drugs.This Exhibit Could Kill You: The Museum of Natural History Takes on Poison
January 8, 2014
The Enchanted Island of Yew by L. Frank Baum The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come by John Fox Jr.American Dreams: ‘The Call of the Wild’ by Jack London
January 25, 2013
"Why, Miss Nell, it be yew sure enough," she said pleasantly.Nell, of Shorne Mills
All about the green square mound the trees are thick—laurel, fir, and yew.Parsifal
H. R. Haweis
You would do right, the yew is indeed a venerable tree, but it is not about the yew.
Admirers of yew trees should make a point of visiting Bignor churchyard.Highways & Byways in Sussex
You would do right; the yew is indeed a venerable tree, but it is not about the yew.
- any coniferous tree of the genus Taxus, of the Old World and North America, esp T. baccata, having flattened needle-like leaves, fine-grained elastic wood, and solitary seeds with a red waxy aril resembling berries: family Taxaceae
- the wood of any of these trees, used to make bows for archery
- archery a bow made of yew
Word Origin and History for yew
Old English iw, eow "yew," from Proto-Germanic *iwa-/*iwo- (cf. Middle Dutch iwe, Dutch ijf, Old High German iwa, German Eibe, Old Norse yr), from PIE *ei-wo- (cf. Old Irish eo, Welsh ywen "yew"), perhaps a suffixed form of *ei- "reddish, motley, yellow." OED says French if, Spanish iva, Medieval Latin ivus are from Germanic (and says Dutch ijf is from French); others posit a Gaulish ivos as the source of these. Lithuanian jeva likewise is said to be from Germanic. The tree symbolizes both death and immortality, being poisonous as well as long-lived.