\ ˈfərn How to pronounce fern (audio) \

Definition of fern

: any of a division (Filicophyta) or class (Filicopsida) of flowerless spore-producing vascular plants having alternating sporophyte and gametophyte generations especially : any of an order (Filicales) of homosporous plants possessing roots, stems, and leaflike fronds — compare seed fern

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Other Words from fern

fernlike \ ˈfərn-​ˌlīk How to pronounce fernlike (audio) \ adjective
ferny \ ˈfər-​nē How to pronounce ferny (audio) \ adjective

Examples of fern in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But the Gilboa roots belong to more primitive trees that may be related to ferns and horsetails. Colin Barras, Science | AAAS, "Scientists have discovered the world’s oldest forest—and its radical impact on life," 19 Dec. 2019 Substitute our dyed ferns with pampas grass for a modern feel. Sara Rodrigues, House Beautiful, "Watch Spray-Painted Ferns Turn a Christmas Wreath into a Centerpiece Year-Round," 12 Dec. 2019 The way the procession works is that bracken ferns and willows turn first, then maples, followed by aspens, dogwoods and other hardwoods. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "Crazy-quilt start to fall colors across Sierra," 22 Sep. 2019 The hole was about five to eight feet wide, obscured by a fern, the paper reported. Meagan Flynn, Anchorage Daily News, "Hawaii man dies from fall into a lava tube hidden in his backyard," 8 Nov. 2019 Greenery dots the space — small ferns, a Sansevieria, a ZZ plant. Nneka Mcguire, Washington Post, "Forget New York. For writer Saeed Jones, Columbus, Ohio, is the place to be a literary star.," 22 Oct. 2019 His past expeditions have found lots of centipedes living in epiphytes called bird’s nest ferns. The Economist, "Even aggressive centipedes will co-operate if they have to," 7 Dec. 2019 But lying just beyond these urbanites is what many find surprising: the bald eagles, red bats, fringed orchids, sensitive ferns, and coyotes that also make their homes among us. New York Times, "Respect the Hustle of Soda Can Raccoon and Murder Cat," 22 Nov. 2019 Seventy workers from 21 area garden clubs had planted 4,000 ferns of 47 species, and 2,000 native herbaceous plants representing 90 species. Washington Post, "How the National Arboretum got its ferns and became a civic treasure," 29 Oct. 2019

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

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First Known Use of fern

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for fern

Middle English, from Old English fearn; akin to Old High German farn fern, Sanskrit parṇa wing, leaf

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Time Traveler for fern

Time Traveler

The first known use of fern was before the 12th century

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Statistics for fern

Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fern.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fern. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for fern


How to pronounce fern (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of fern

: a type of plant that has large, delicate leaves and no flowers


\ ˈfərn How to pronounce fern (audio) \

Kids Definition of fern

: a plant that produces spores instead of seeds and no flowers and whose leaves are usually divided into many parts

Other Words from fern

fernlike \ -​ˌlīk \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on fern

Spanish Central: Translation of fern

Nglish: Translation of fern for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fern

Comments on fern

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


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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