See also: Plant



From Middle English plante, from Old English plante (young tree or shrub, herb newly planted), from Latin planta (sprout, shoot, cutting). Broader sense of "any vegetable life, vegetation generally" is from French plante.

The verb is from Middle English planten, from Old English plantian (to plant), from Latin plantare, later influenced by Old French planter. Compare also Dutch planten (to plant), German pflanzen (to plant), Swedish planta (to plant), Icelandic planta (to plant).


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Particularly: "British"


plant (plural plants)

  1. ( botany) An organism that is not an animal, especially an organism capable of photosynthesis. Typically a small or herbaceous organism of this kind, rather than a tree.
    • 2013 May-June, Katrina G. Claw, “Rapid Evolution in Eggs and Sperm”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, page 217:
      In plants, the ability to recognize self from nonself plays an important role in fertilization, because self-fertilization will result in less diverse offspring than fertilization with pollen from another individual. Many genes with reproductive roles also have antibacterial and immune functions, which indicate that the threat of microbial attack on the sperm or egg may be a major influence on rapid evolution during reproduction.
    The garden had a couple of trees, and a cluster of colourful plants around the border.
  2. ( botany) An organism of the kingdom Plantae; now specifically, a living organism of the Embryophyta (land plants) or of the Chlorophyta ( green algae), a eukaryote that includes double-membraned chloroplasts in its cells containing chlorophyll a and b, or any organism closely related to such an organism.
  3. ( ecology) Now specifically, a multicellular eukaryote that includes chloroplasts in its cells, which have a cell wall.
  4. ( proscribed as biologically inaccurate) Any creature that grows on soil or similar surfaces, including plants and fungi.
  5. A factory or other industrial or institutional building or facility.
  6. An object placed surreptitiously in order to cause suspicion to fall upon a person.
    That gun's not mine! It's a plant! I've never seen it before!
  7. Anyone assigned to behave as a member of the public during a covert operation (as in a police investigation).
  8. A person, placed amongst an audience, whose role is to cause confusion, laughter etc.
  9. (snooker) A play in which the cue ball knocks one (usually red) ball onto another, in order to pot the second; a set.
    • 2008, Phil Yates, The Times, April 28 2008:
      O’Sullivan risked a plant that went badly astray, splitting the reds.
  10. ( uncountable) Machinery, such as the kind used in earthmoving or construction.
  11. ( obsolete) A young tree; a sapling; hence, a stick or staff.
    • 1694, John Dryden, transl., “The Third Book of Virgil's Georgicks”, in The Annual Miscellany, for the Year 1694, London: Jacob Tonson, page 185:
      Take, Shepherd, take a Plant of ſtubborn Oak; / And labour him with many a ſturdy ſtroke: / Or with hard Stones, demoliſh from afar / His haughty Creſt, the feat of all the War.
  12. ( obsolete) The sole of the foot.
    • 1611, Ben Jonson, “ Oberon, the Faery Prince”, in The Works of Ben Jonson, volume V, London: D. Midwinter et al., published 1756, page 384:
      Knotty legs, and plants of clay, / Seek for eaſe, or love delay.
  13. ( dated, slang) A plan; a swindle; a trick.
    • 1850 March 30, Charles Dickens, “A Detective Police Party”, in Household Words, volume 1, page 413:
      It wasn’t a bad plant that of mine, on Fikey, the man accused of forging the Sou’ Westeru Railway debentures—it was only t’ other day—because the reason why? I’ll tell you.
  14. An oyster which has been bedded, in distinction from one of natural growth.
  15. ( US, dialect) A young oyster suitable for transplanting.

Usage notes

The scientific definition of what organisms should be considered plants changed dramatically during the 20th century. Bacteria, algae, and fungi are no longer considered plants by those who study them. Many textbooks do not reflect the most current thinking on classification.



Derived terms

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


plant (third-person singular simple present plants, present participle planting, simple past and past participle planted)

  1. ( transitive) To place (a seed or plant) in soil or other substrate in order that it may live and grow.
  2. ( transitive) To place (an object, or sometimes a person), often with the implication of intending deceit.
    That gun's not mine! It was planted there by the real murderer!
  3. ( transitive) To place or set something firmly or with conviction.
    Plant your feet firmly and give the rope a good tug.
    to plant cannon against a fort; to plant a flag; to plant one's feet on solid ground
    • 2011 January 15, Sam Sheringham, “Chelsea 2 - 0 Blackburn Rovers”, in BBC[1]:
      First Anelka curled a shot wide from just outside the box, then Lampard planted a header over the bar from Bosingwa's cross.
  4. To place in the ground.
    • 2007, Richard Laymon, Savage, page 118:
      Sarah, she kissed each of her grandparents on the forehead. They were planted in a graveyard behind the church.
  5. To furnish or supply with plants.
    to plant a garden, an orchard, or a forest
  6. To engender; to generate; to set the germ of.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare
      It engenders choler, planteth anger.
  7. To furnish with a fixed and organized population; to settle; to establish.
    to plant a colony
    • (Can we date this quote?) Francis Bacon
      planting of countries like planting of woods
  8. To introduce and establish the principles or seeds of.
    to plant Christianity among the heathen
  9. To set up; to install; to instate.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare
      We will plant some other in the throne.

Derived terms

Related terms


See also

Other Languages
Afrikaans: plant
العربية: plant
azərbaycanca: plant
Bân-lâm-gú: plant
български: plant
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čeština: plant
corsu: plant
Cymraeg: plant
dansk: plant
Deutsch: plant
eesti: plant
Ελληνικά: plant
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Esperanto: plant
euskara: plant
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italiano: plant
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latviešu: plant
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magyar: plant
Malagasy: plant
മലയാളം: plant
မြန်မာဘာသာ: plant
Na Vosa Vakaviti: plant
Nederlands: plant
日本語: plant
norsk: plant
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: plant
polski: plant
português: plant
русский: plant
Gagana Samoa: plant
Simple English: plant
slovenčina: plant
српски / srpski: plant
suomi: plant
svenska: plant
தமிழ்: plant
తెలుగు: plant
ไทย: plant
ᏣᎳᎩ: plant
Türkçe: plant
Tiếng Việt: plant
Volapük: plant
walon: plant
中文: plant