co·​ni·​fer ˈkä-nə-fər How to pronounce conifer (audio)
 also  ˈkō-
: any of an order (Coniferales) of mostly evergreen trees and shrubs having usually needle-shaped or scalelike leaves and including forms (such as pines) with true cones and others (such as yews) with an arillate fruit
coniferous adjective

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Any of an order of trees and shrubs, conifers usually have usually needle-shaped or scale-like leaves. Conifers include forms (such as pines) with true cones and others (such as yews) that bear a fruit. There are more than 550 species of conifers, and most are evergreen trees and shrubs. They grow throughout the world (except in Antarctica) and prefer temperate climate zones. They include the world's smallest and tallest trees. Conifers supply softwood timber used for general construction, boxes and crates, and other articles, as well as pulpwood for paper. The wood is also used as fuel and in the manufacture of cellulose products, plywood, and veneers. The trees are the source of resins, oils, turpentine, tars, and pharmaceuticals.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The fossil’s long saga likely began between 34 and 38 million years ago, during the late Eocene, when a blob of sticky resin oozed out of a conifer tree near the Baltic Sea in what is now Russia. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Jan. 2023 Winter grouse spend a good deal of time in thick conifer cover that offers protection from cold winds and typically less snow at ground level. Tom Davis, Field & Stream, 10 Jan. 2023 If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to strategically rotate your conifer toward a wall. Anna Fixsen, ELLE Decor, 2 Dec. 2022 That enrichment promoted flowering plants over their conifer cousins. Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine, 29 Dec. 2021 Old-growth conifer and mature forest, steep terrain and fast-moving streams characterize this unique ecosystem, which is home to black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, elk, rainbow trout and other animal species. Discover Magazine, 2 June 2017 While at the Arboretum, don’t forget to browse the conifer collection, which always looks magical at this time of year. Chris Richards, Washington Post, 8 Dec. 2022 Tall thin trunks, with bushy conifer crowns right at eye level. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, 6 Dec. 2022 Probably a Pinus taeda, or loblolly pine, a slender conifer native to the Southeastern United States. Matthew Shaer, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History


ultimately from Latin conifer cone-bearing, from conus cone + -fer

First Known Use

circa 1841, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of conifer was circa 1841

Dictionary Entries Near conifer

Cite this Entry

“Conifer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


 also  ˈkō-nə-
: any of an order of mostly evergreen trees and shrubs having leaves resembling needles or scales in shape and including forms (as pines) with true cones

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