ike·​ba·​na ˌi-kā-ˈbä-nə How to pronounce ikebana (audio)
: the Japanese art of flower arranging that emphasizes form and balance

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Ikebana is a way of arranging flowers that was developed by the Japanese. It was introduced in Japan in the sixth century by Chinese Buddhist missionaries, who had formalized the ritual of offering flowers to Buddha. The art is based on the harmony of simple linear constructions and the appreciation of the subtle beauty of flowers and natural material, such as branches and stems. There are several major ikebana schools, with differing histories and theories of artistic style. In its highest form, this art form is spiritual and philosophical in nature, but in modern Japan, it is more often practiced as a sign of refinement by marriageable young women and older matrons.

Examples of ikebana in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web According to Season Floral arts, especially ikebana, have a reputation of being very formulated and precise. Kristin Guy, Sunset Magazine, 5 Apr. 2023 Prompted at least in part by McCray’s article, the government took a new interest in promoting Japanese culture, and not just the traditional forms such as Noh drama, tea ceremony, and ikebana (flower arranging), but new stuff too. Marc Bain, Quartz, 21 May 2020 At the center of the space is an open kitchen with a charcoal-grey stone counter that doubles as a plating station and a display for lavish ikebana floral installations. Melinda Joe, Condé Nast Traveler, 2 Mar. 2018 Other displays include origami, haiku inspired by Arizona, swords and ikebana, or flower arrangements. Kimi Robinson, azcentral, 18 Feb. 2020 Inside the museum were bonsai and ikebana displays, friends playing at a mahjong table, families admiring Asian fashion throughout the centuries and children mimicking martial arts demonstrations. Sara Cline, ExpressNews.com, 1 Feb. 2020 Celebrate the Year of the Rat with mochitsuki, where participants use mallets to pound rice into cake form, plus kakizome (calligraphy), ikebana (flower arranging) and dressing up in kimonos. Dallas News, 9 Jan. 2020 Back in Seattle, the girls attended lessons in tea ceremony, ikebana (flower arranging) and the Japanese language. Hannah Kirshner, New York Times, 24 Dec. 2019 Donald Judd’s Marfa boxes are like so many ikebana flowers, timeless and yet captured within time. Kyle Chayka, Harper's magazine, 25 Nov. 2019

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

Word History


Japanese, from ikeru to keep alive, arrange + hana flower

First Known Use

1901, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ikebana was in 1901

Dictionary Entries Near ikebana

Cite this Entry

“Ikebana.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ikebana. Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


ike·​ba·​na ˌik-ā-ˈbän-ə How to pronounce ikebana (audio)
: the Japanese art of flower arranging

Japanese, from ikeru "to keep alive, arrange" and hana "flower"

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