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

Definition of ginkgo

1 : 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

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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 When continental drift broke Pangaea apart, the ginkgo vanished from North America. Clive Thompson, The Atlantic, "The Struggle to Save City Trees," 9 Oct. 2020 The ginkgo trees in North Texas put on a good show this fall, and that has led to many questions about this prehistoric tree. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, "How to make your ginkgo tree grow like a champion," 7 Dec. 2020 Blandy Experimental Farm, which is home to The Ginkgo Grove, an arboretum with over 300 ginkgo trees. Sarah Gibbens, Environment, "Ginkgo trees nearly went extinct. Here’s how we saved these ‘living fossils.’," 30 Nov. 2020 The leaves that cloak a ginkgo’s graceful branches in summer are unique. Beth Botts,, "An ode to the ginkgo, as its fleeting golden leaves arrive in the last show of summer," 27 Sep. 2020 In 1784, William Hamilton, a wealthy botanical collector in Philadelphia, brought ginkgo trees back to the United States to plant on his property. Clive Thompson, The Atlantic, "The Struggle to Save City Trees," 9 Oct. 2020 Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple is a ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) that’s been quietly shedding its leaves for 1,400 years. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Genetic Elixir of Life Helps Millennia-Old Ginkgo Trees Escape Death," 17 Jan. 2020 Oregon now has one of the largest plantings of Hiroshima-origin peace trees outside Japan, with 30 towns and cities around the state participating in the project and many ginkgo and Asian persimmon trees finding new homes. oregonlive, "Oregon recognizes 75th anniversary of Hiroshima atomic bombing with online peace tree map," 4 Aug. 2020 Some are brownish and look like terra-cotta; others are pure white like those in my ginkgo tree. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, "What’s that in your garden? Strange sightings are usually no big deal," 17 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ginkgo.' 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 ginkgo

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ginkgo

New Latin Ginkgo, from Japanese ginkyō

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Time Traveler for ginkgo

Time Traveler

The first known use of ginkgo was in 1773

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Statistics for ginkgo

Last Updated

30 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ginkgo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for ginkgo


How to pronounce ginkgo (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ginkgo

: a large Chinese tree that has fan-shaped leaves

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