views updated May 14 2018

banyan an Indian fig tree, the branches of which produce aerial roots which later become accessory trunks, so that a mature tree may cover several hectares in this manner.

Recorded from the late 16th century, the word comes via Portuguese from Gujarati vāṇiyo ‘man of the trading caste’, from Sanskrit. Originally denoting a Hindu merchant, the term was applied, by Europeans in the mid 17th century, to a particular tree under which such traders had built a pagoda.

In naval slang, banyan day (recorded from the mid 18th century) means a day on which no meat is served, originally with reference to the vegetarianism of banyans, or Hindus of the trading caste.


views updated Jun 11 2018

ban·yan / ˈbanyən/ • n. (also banyan tree) an Indian fig tree (Ficus benghalensis) whose branches produce aerial roots that later become accessory trunks. A mature tree may cover several acres in this manner.


views updated May 11 2018

banyan Evergreen tree of e India. The branches send down aerial shoots that take root, forming new trunks. Such trunks from a single tree may form a circle up to 100m (330ft) across. Height: to 30m (100ft). Family Moraceae; species Ficus benghalensis.


views updated May 21 2018

banyan see BANIAN.