ar·​bo·​re·​al | \ är-ˈbȯr-ē-əl How to pronounce arboreal (audio) \

Definition of arboreal

1 : of, relating to, or resembling a tree
2 : inhabiting or frequenting trees arboreal monkeys

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from arboreal

arboreally \ är-​ˈbȯr-​ē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce arboreally (audio) \ adverb

Head to the Forest to Define Arboreal

Arbor, the Latin word for "tree," has been a rich source of tree-related words in English, though some are fairly rare. Some arbor descendants are synonyms of arboreal in the "relating to trees" sense: arboraceous, arborary, arborical, and arborous. Some are synonyms meaning "inhabiting trees": arboreous and arboricole. Others mean "resembling a tree": arborescent, arboresque, and arboriform. 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 and arboriculture. 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. But watch out-the word arbor, in the sense of a "bower," is from Anglo-French herbe.

Examples of arboreal in a Sentence

Primate keepers Colleen Reed and Scott Jackson wove the hose into hammocks, which are now being used by 54-year-old orangutan Inji and gibbons Phyllis and Duffy. They are relatively indestructible, mimic the arboreal nests used by orangutans, and provide a resting area for the gibbons as they swing among the treetops. —Portland (Ore.) Tribune, Firefighters' gift helps aging zoo apes, by Jim Redden, August 25, 2014 It's an amazing sight, but not the most amazing of all. That comes near the end of the trail's loop, where we emerge into open space, 70 acres of green grassland, a savanna of widely spaced, mature trees, many reaching 60 feet tall, gnarled and weathered, separated as if each had staked out its own territory: an arboreal Gothic cathedral indeed. —Sunset [NEXIS], April 2014, HEADLINE: Oak Land, BYLINE: Marken, Bill A chachalaca is a galliforme [sic] that moves around at a high level above the ground. Similar birds, such s the grouse or turkey, stick mostly to the ground. Marion believes the bird’s arboreal lifestyle is an adaptation to its environment, which is usually near water, Chachalacas took to trees to survive floods, he thinks. —“In Search of Chachalacs” P. 82, Chuck Wanager, BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST Vol. 17 No. 2, November/December 1994 In the early ’60s, Turner was a photorealist, painting precise and accurate recreations of life that could easily be mistaken for photographs. He later turned to a more whimsical style, and then to a series of tree paintings. By 1983, Turner’s trees had turned flesh-colored, with limbs intertwining and branches beginning to resemble arms. The metamorphosis of his subjects from arboreal to human was eventually completed. And, as Turner recalls ruefully, the audience that had adored his treescapes began asking, “What happened to this guy we thought we knew?” —“Portrait of an Artist” P. 40, Peter Gambaccini, RUNNER’S WORLD Vol. 29 No. 2, February 1994
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But another aspect of Eça’s writing has to be mentioned: how time unfolds with a sublime, almost arboreal leisure. James Guida, The New York Review of Books, "James Guida," 6 Apr. 2019 True to its arboreal name, Euclid has grown over the years. San Antonio Express-News, "Subscribe to the San Antonio Express-News," 3 Jan. 2015 Containing a single oak with branches outstretched in arboreal eloquence, it is surrounded by walls of dark stained cedar. Julie V. Iovine, WSJ, "A Buoyant Building for Looking and Learning," 12 Nov. 2018 Cantwell and her colleagues, along with other city agencies and nonprofits, add more than 10,000 trees annually to the District’s arboreal family. Gabriel Popkin, Washington Post, "D.C. says its tree canopy is growing. Federal researchers disagree.," 10 June 2018 Between May and August, Freeze might catch fewer than 10 northerns at his arboreal outpost just off Interstate 95. Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, "A mysterious disease is killing millions of bats. These scientists are trying to save them.," 12 July 2018 The paper looked at about a dozen songbird species, including the American robin, red-faced warbler, and other arboreal species, as well as ground-dwelling birds like the house wren and white-breasted nuthatch. National Geographic, "Birds That Leave Nest Too Late Can Endanger Their Families," 25 June 2018 When enjoying its evolved arboreal lifestyle, however, the sloth is a genius. Steve Mirsky, Scientific American, "A Look at the Inner Lives of 13 Species of Animals You Think You Know," 13 July 2018 Using statistical analysis of the fossil record, combined with data on the forests, the researchers concluded that non-arboreal birds—those who didn’t live in trees—were much more likely to survive. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "How the Ancestors of Birds Survived the Dino-Killing Asteroid," 24 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'arboreal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of arboreal

circa 1667, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for arboreal

Latin arboreus of a tree, from arbor

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about arboreal

Listen to Our Podcast about arboreal

Dictionary Entries near arboreal



Arbor Day





Statistics for arboreal

Last Updated

1 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for arboreal

The first known use of arboreal was circa 1667

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for arboreal



English Language Learners Definition of arboreal

formal + literary : of or relating to trees
technical : living in or often found in trees


ar·​bo·​re·​al | \ är-ˈbȯr-ē-əl How to pronounce arboreal (audio) \

Kids Definition of arboreal

1 : living in or often found in trees Koalas are arboreal animals.
2 : of or relating to a tree the forest's arboreal beauty

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on arboreal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with arboreal

Spanish Central: Translation of arboreal

Nglish: Translation of arboreal for Spanish Speakers

Comments on arboreal

What made you want to look up arboreal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!