dry·​ad | \ ˈdrī-əd How to pronounce dryad (audio) , -ˌad \
plural dryads

Definition of dryad

: a spirit that lives in the forest : wood nymph, fairy For the Greek all of nature was instinct with life… Every tree had its dryad, and the oak was sacred to Zeus, the olive to Athene, the bay to Apollo, the myrtle to Aphrodite, the poplar to Heracles.World Religions … a sunrise stroll with a dryad in a dew-drenched forest …— Edith Wharton

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Dryad and Greek Mythology

The term dryad comes from the Greek word for "oak tree". As the Greeks saw it, every tree (not only oaks) had a spirit. The best known of the dryads was Daphne. The beautiful daughter of a river god, she was desired by the god Apollo; as he was about to capture her, she prayed to her father to save her, and he transformed her into a laurel tree. In her honor, Apollo commanded that the poet who won the highest prize every year be crowned with a laurel wreath. The Greeks' respect for trees unfortunately failed to keep Greece's forests from shrinking greatly over the centuries, and those that remain produce little wood of good quality.

Examples of dryad in a Sentence

dryads were said to live within trees, their lives ending when the life of the tree ended
Recent Examples on the Web The taste is close to water, only water as if just rained down and sipped from a blossom, with a delicate, attenuated sweetness: what a dryad might live on. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, "At Belarussian Xata, Hearty Fare to Keep the Spirits Light," 22 Feb. 2018 Isaac, the dryad Lena Greenwood, and the fire-spider Smudge lead the efforts to uncover the mystery. John Booth, WIRED, "Rediscover the Magic of Books With Libriomancer," 7 Aug. 2012

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

First Known Use of dryad

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for dryad

Latin dryad-, dryas, from Greek, from drys tree — more at tree entry 1

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Time Traveler for dryad

Time Traveler

The first known use of dryad was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Dryad.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dryad. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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