bonsai

play
noun bon·sai \(ˌ)bōn-ˈsī, ˈbōn-ˌ, ˈbän-ˌ also ˈbän-ˌzī\

Definition of bonsai

plural

bonsai

  1. :  a potted plant (such as a tree) dwarfed (as by pruning) and trained to an artistic shape; also :  the art of growing such a plant

Recent Examples of bonsai from the Web

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

Did You Know?

This is a living dwarf tree. The word bonsai can also refer to the art of training and growing these dwarf plants in containers. Bonsai specimens are ordinary trees and shrubs, not hereditary dwarfs; they are dwarfed by a system of pruning roots and branches and training branches by tying them with wire. The art originated in China, but has been pursued and developed primarily by the Japanese. The inspiration for bonsai is found in nature, in trees that grow in harsh, rocky places, and are dwarfed and gnarled throughout their existence. Bonsai may live for a century or more and can be handed down from one generation to another. Bonsai pots, usually earthenware and of variable shape, are carefully chosen to harmonize in color and proportion with the tree. A sizable bonsai industry exists as part of the nursery industry in Japan. California is home to a small-scale bonsai industry.

Illustration of bonsai

Origin and Etymology of bonsai

Japanese, literally, tray planting


BONSAI Defined for English Language Learners

bonsai

play
noun

Definition of bonsai for English Language Learners

  • : a very small tree or bush that is grown in a pot by using special methods to control its growth

  • : the art of growing bonsai


Learn More about bonsai


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to become worse as time passes

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Emoji Quiz

  • emoji-the-quiz
  • What phase of the moon is this: 🌖 ?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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