Word of the day – Arboreal

Word of the day : April 24, 2020


adjective – ahr-Bor-ee-ul


  • of or relating to a tree : resembling a tree
  • inhabiting or frequenting trees

Did You Know?

Arbor, the Latin word for “tree,” has been a rich source of tree-related words in English, though a few are fairly rare. Some arbor descendants are generally synonymous with arborealarboraceousarboraryarboreous, and arborous. Others are primarily synonymous with arboreal in the sense of “relating to or resembling a tree”: arborescentarboresquearborical, and arboriform. And one, arboricole, is a synonym of arboreal in its sense of “inhabiting trees.” The verb arborize means “to branch freely,” and arborvitae is the name of a shrub that means literally “tree of life.” There’s also arboretum, a place where trees are cultivated, and arboriculture, the cultivation of trees. And we can’t forget Arbor Day, which since 1872 has named a day set aside by various states (and the national government) for planting trees. Despite its spelling, however, the English word arbor, in the sense of a “bower,” does not have its roots in the Latin arbor. Instead, it arises by way of the Anglo-French herbe from the Latin herba, meaning “herb” or “grass.”


“[The hammocks] are relatively indestructible, mimic the arboreal nests used by orangutans, and provide a resting area for the gibbons as they swing among the treetops.” — Jim Redden, The Portland (Oregon) Tribune, 25 Aug. 2014.

“In the wild, they’re arboreal and live in tropical rain forests. And as their name implies, sloths move slowly. So slowly, in fact, that they have a metabolic rate of about 40 percent to 45 percent of ‘what would be expected for their body weight,’ according to zoo experts.” — Dana Hedgpeth, The Washington Post, 30 Dec. 2019.

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day