: 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
fernlike adjective
ferny adjective

Examples of fern in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some 130 million years ago during the early Cretaceous, when dinosaurs still reigned, the world was transitioning from domination by ferns and conifers to domination by flowering plants. Ari Daniel, NPR, 28 June 2024 Under towering trees, among ferns and forbs, participants will find all kinds of things staying cooler in the shade. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 27 June 2024 Intensive agricultural usage, long promoted by government funding, gives way to the rampant spread of bracken — a type of fern that, left to its own devices, grows upwards of six feet, choking out any other life. Tom Vanderbilt, Travel + Leisure, 25 June 2024 Then there are the immense fields of ferns that seem to appear out of nowhere. Jim Holden, The Mercury News, 24 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for fern 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fern.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near fern

Cite this Entry

“Fern.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fern. Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: any of an order of vascular plants resembling seed plants in having root, stem, and leaflike fronds but reproducing by spores instead of by flowers and seeds
fernlike adjective
ferny adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on fern

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