ol·​ive | \ˈä-liv, -ləv\

Definition of olive 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a Mediterranean evergreen tree (Olea europaea of the family Oleaceae, the olive family) cultivated for its drupaceous fruit that is an important food and source of oil also : the fruit

b : any of various shrubs and trees resembling the olive

2 : any of several colors resembling that of the unripe fruit of the olive tree that are yellowish green

3 : an oval eminence on each ventrolateral aspect of the medulla oblongata



Definition of olive (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of the color olive or olive green

2 : approaching olive in color or complexion

Examples of olive in a Sentence


a sauce made with chopped olives Does the suit come in olive?

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Offset the salt with a drizzle of honey and a few drops of lemon juice and pair it with mint leaves on a platter with olives. Sally Pasley Vargas, BostonGlobe.com, "Prepare several mezze plates for this rehearsal dinner, which won’t cost a crazy amount of money," 4 June 2018 Lightly chewy tannins gird the savory core of this wine, packed with olive, graphite and tobacco flavors. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, "Tasting Notes: Fort Ross-Seaview and the anti-California Cabernets," 20 Apr. 2018 There's a selection of English pasties – pastries filled with steak and potato, meatball and mozzarella, butternut squash and Parmesan, or roasted chicken and tomato confit with olives. Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle, "Tea + Victory board game café opens April 10 in the Heights area," 6 Apr. 2018 Toss them gently in a mixing bowl with the olives, onions, and capers. Gabrielle Hamilton, House Beautiful, "Gabrielle Hamilton's Olive Oil-Poached Tuna with Potatoes and Swiss Chard Stems," 12 Sep. 2012 To serve: Garnish with olives, tomatoes and cheese. Woman's Day, "Santa Fe Sunrise Salad," 30 Dec. 2011 Lay thyme sprigs over lemons and sprinkle with olives. Country Living, "Roasted Cod with Olives and Lemon," 21 Jan. 2010 Add ice to serving glass, and pour in blended mocktail. Garnish with a stalk of fresh celery, and a toothpick of alternating all natural olives and pickle slices. Health.com, "6 Mocktail Recipes That Make Happy Hour Way Healthier," 12 July 2018 Those 40 are divided between six skin undertones, including cool, cool rosy, neutral, warm, warm olive, and warm peach. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "Meghan Markle’s Wedding Foundation Is Exactly as Good as It Looked," 15 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Most foundations for darker skin complexions only include golden or red undertones, but Flesh carries both of those as well as neutral and olive undertones for darker skin complexions, which is amazing! Tiffany Dodson, SELF, "5 Foundations Dark-Skinned Beauty Bloggers Love," 17 Aug. 2018 Now 131 North St, Healdsburg; 707-723-4646 Where to Eat and Drink Set into a hillside overlooking a 33-acre olive grove, the bar terrace at this 35-year-old Relais & Châteaux resort is one of the most pleasant places around to imbibe. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "T&C Travel Guide: Napa Valley and Sonoma County, California," 9 July 2018 The olive jar was 0.76 of a pound and the jam jar was 0.48 of a pound. Victoria Adams Fogg, Washington Post, "I tried reducing my trash. You can, too. Start by examining it.," 7 July 2018 The muffuletta, made with prosciutto, capicola, shaved Parmesan, and olive salad, could easily be mistaken for an extra-spicy Italian combo. Hannah Goldfield, The New Yorker, "Lowerline and Café Booqoo Translate Classics of New Orleans Cuisine," 28 June 2018 Scott Pask’s bare-boards set, lighted with nowhere-to-hide clarity by Adam Honoré, consists of some sheets of parachute silk and olive-drab packing crates, which are put to multifarious use. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Bad Girl Makes Good in a Glorious ‘Carmen Jones’," 27 June 2018 Divide the pasta among 4 shallow bowls and top with the remaining sauce, shrimp, and olive mixture. Sheryl Julian, BostonGlobe.com, "Recipe: Toss spicy Italian puttanesca with shrimp and angel hair in this sublime summer dish," 18 June 2018 The materials look good, particularly the Advance package’s open-pore olive ash wood and metal accents. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "2019 Acura RDX review: Value, power drive SUV forward," 27 June 2018 At the merchandise stands, olive-green T-shirts with snakes on the front pocket were $50. New York Times, "Taylor Swift Begins Her ‘Reputation’ Tour, Taking on Foes and Her Old Self," 9 May 2018

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


1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1657, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for olive


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin oliva, from Greek elaia

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Statistics for olive

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for olive

The first known use of olive was in 1600

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More Definitions for olive



English Language Learners Definition of olive

: a small, egg-shaped black or green fruit that is used as food or for making oil

: a tree on which olives grow

: a yellowish-green color


ol·​ive | \ˈä-liv \

Kids Definition of olive

1 : the oily fruit of an evergreen tree that is eaten both ripe and unripe and is the source of an edible oil ( olive oil )

2 : a yellowish green color


ol·​ive | \ˈäl-iv, -əv \

Medical Definition of olive 

1 : an Old World evergreen tree (Olea europaea of the family Oleaceae, the olive family) cultivated for its drupaceous fruit that is an important food and source of oil also : the fruit

2 : an oval eminence on each ventrolateral aspect of the medulla oblongata that contains the inferior olive of the same side

called also olivary body

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More from Merriam-Webster on olive

Spanish Central: Translation of olive

Nglish: Translation of olive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of olive for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about olive

Comments on olive

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full of whispering sounds

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