gink·​go ˈgiŋ-(ˌ)kō How to pronounce ginkgo (audio)
 also  ˈgiŋk-(ˌ)gō
variants or less commonly gingko
plural ginkgoes or ginkgos also gingkos or gingkoes
: a gymnospermous dioecious tree (Ginkgo biloba) of eastern China that is widely grown as an ornamental or shade tree and has fan-shaped leaves and foul-smelling yellowish fleshy seed coats

called also maidenhair tree


Did you know?

There is only one living representative of the gymnosperm order Ginkgoales, and that is the tree Ginkgo biloba. Native to China, the ginkgo has existed for some 250 million years and is often termed a living fossil. It has long been planted in Chinese and Japanese temple gardens, and is valued in many parts of the world as an attractive, fungus- and insect-resistant ornamental tree. It tolerates cold weather and can survive the adverse atmospheric conditions of urban areas. The light-colored wood, is soft and weak and has little economic value. The leaves are fan-shaped and leathery. The silvery nut, when roasted, is considered a delicacy. Studies have suggested that ginkgo supplements can enhance memory function in the elderly and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The sense that everything that happens happens on cue, a sudden shower of ginkgo leaves. Ben Lerner, The New Yorker, 3 Apr. 2023 Courtesy image Outside are a front porch, a large yard, and a back patio displaying a fishpond and massive ginkgo tree. The Week Staff, The Week, 12 Mar. 2023 My mom loved ginkgo trees. Clara Haneberg, Better Homes & Gardens, 30 July 2021 Honeylocust ginkgo, buckeyes and tulip tree leaves, for example, turn yellow, while sugar and Japanese maples, sweetgum, sumac and pin oaks turn orange or reddish as the weather cools. William Lee, Chicago Tribune, 21 Oct. 2022 The deck nestled against the back of their home provided a cozy outdoor dining area, but visitors seemed most impressed with a three-level terraced area shaded by two magnolia trees and a 100-year-old ginkgo. Susan Degrane,, 21 July 2021 On a brisk morning in November, bright yellow leaves from a huge ginkgo tree scattered onto the front yard of 87 MacDonough Street. Dodai Stewart, New York Times, 20 Dec. 2022 At the ceremony in Oregon, Tamura Snider, who emigrated to the United States decades ago and lives in Medford, went outside to one of the peace trees, a ginkgo, on the forestry department grounds, with dozens of other people. Andrew Selsky, ajc, 26 Sep. 2022 The name ginkgo is from the Chinese word meaning silver fruit. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, 13 Sep. 2021 See More

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

Word History


New Latin Ginkgo, from Japanese ginkyō

First Known Use

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ginkgo was in 1773

Dictionary Entries Near ginkgo

Cite this Entry

“Ginkgo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants also gingko
ˈgiŋ-kō How to pronounce ginkgo (audio)
 also  ˈgiŋk-gō
plural ginkgoes or ginkgos
: a large Chinese tree with fan-shaped leaves and bad-smelling fruit that is often grown as a shade tree

More from Merriam-Webster on ginkgo

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