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.

Examples of ginkgo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web After his death, teachers also planted a ginkgo tree next to the lunchroom in Mr. Paty’s name, to represent strength, hope, and resilience. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 Apr. 2024 Formulated with a nourishing blend of green tea, ginkgo leaf extract, sweet almond, and peppermint extract, this foot mask provides a softening and soothing burst of hydration while revitalizing the soles. Jessie Quinn, Peoplemag, 14 Mar. 2024 Someone has swept the sidewalk of the ginkgo berries. Parul Sehgal, The New Yorker, 4 Dec. 2023 Within 48 hours of their stroke, they were treated with either ginkgo diterpene lactone meglumine (GDLM) or a placebo for 14 days.2 What Is an Ischemic Stroke? Nick Blackmer, Verywell Health, 16 Feb. 2024 The compounds vary by species and determine the color of the tree’s autumn foliage—so a species like the ginkgo, which turns yellow in fall, won’t turn red. Smithsonian Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Jan. 2024 On a crisp fall day at Birmingham-Southern College, the students were making their way to class, stealing a few cold minutes under the golden ginkgo trees. Emily Cochrane, New York Times, 27 Dec. 2023 One such nootropic gaining popularity is ginkgo leaf, which has been used for centuries for its cognitive-enhancing properties. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 4 July 2023 Among the available cultivars are Jade Butterfly ginkgo, a dwarf variety that grows just 12 to 15 feet high; Princeton Sentry ginkgo, a narrow, nearly columnar tree that tapers to a point; and Autumn Gold ginkgo, which has excellent fall color. Beth Botts,, 27 Sep. 2020

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 13 Jun. 2024.

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

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