ol·​ive | \ ˈä-liv How to pronounce olive (audio) , -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

Before serving, toss again and garnish with the olives. Jeff Koehler, Twin Cities, "With these Moroccan salads, vegetables come first — and in dazzling abundance," 8 Aug. 2019 Elsewhere, an olive tree, boxwood, westringia and lavender provide refreshing greenery without requiring excessive water or upkeep. Emily Young, Los Angeles Times, "A Santa Monica backyard is remade for outdoor entertaining," 22 Aug. 2019 The tiny black olives make a beautiful golden oil rich in fatty acids and renowned for its fruity aroma. Jennifer Goldstein, Marie Claire, "Davines' Newest Shampoo Took 203 Years to Make," 8 May 2019 Coleman is particularly fond of their Arbequina oil, which is more mellow, and their oil made from the Picual olives, which is more assertive. Brette Warshaw, GQ, "The Best Olive Oils for Any Kitchen," 26 Apr. 2018 In a liquid measuring cup, combine the olive and grapeseed oils. Bibby Gignilliat, The Mercury News, "Quick Cook: Grilled Portobello Burgers with Cilantro-Lime Aioli," 27 July 2019 Johnson also said in that same interview that his chance of one day becoming, like his hero Churchill, British prime minister was about as good as finding Elvis on Mars or being reincarnated as an olive. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is like Trump. Only he isn't.," 23 July 2019 In a bowl, toss the olives, watermelon, shallot, mint, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. 2. Karoline Boehm Goodnick, BostonGlobe.com, "Recipe: Spicy watermelon gazpacho has all the elements of the classic soup — with a chile pepper," 23 July 2019 Roll into glass, back into shaker, back into glass. Garnish with 2 asparagus spears and an olive on a toothpick. Aleksandra Crapanzano, WSJ, "In Praise of the Morning Cocktail," 25 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Lowenberg says her current favorite is a muted charcoal and olive palette that looks like a modern neutral. Shannon Fitzgerald, Fortune, "How Sustainable Startup Rothy’s Found Success Turning Recycled Water Bottles into Fashionable Footwear," 15 Sep. 2019 Some camp in olive groves, one family beneath each tree. The Economist, "Syria’s war is drawing to a close. But the pain will go on," 5 Sep. 2019 In Maroun el-Ras, residents inspected their tobacco and olive fields early Monday, some of which were burned by the Israeli fire. Washington Post, "Calm prevails on Lebanon-Israel border day after brief clash," 3 Sep. 2019 In 2009, dozens of wildfires broke out across Greece, torching olive groves, cutting off villages, and sending residents fleeing as one of the largest blazes swept perilously close to the capital’s northern suburbs. BostonGlobe.com, "This day in history," 22 Aug. 2019 The Tlaib family’s single-story, flat-roofed home is one of the simpler houses in the area, with a small olive grove and a few fig trees standing in its otherwise bare yard. Isabel Kershner, New York Times, "In Tlaib’s Ancestral Village, Grandmother Weathers a Global Political Storm," 16 Aug. 2019 The gentle slope behind the home also offers the opportunity to take advantage of the optimal sun exposure for a vineyard, olive tree grove or fruit tree orchard. Monica Lander, The Mercury News, "Sponsored: One of a Kind: Spectacular Mt. Diablo views from a Round Hill North home in Alamo," 12 Aug. 2019 The strip was once thick with olive groves but the Israeli army has levelled well over a thousand acres of them. The Economist, "How to eat well while living under siege," 2 Aug. 2019 Milian wore a white tank top that accented her small baby bump, paired with olive-green pants and matching booties. Helen Murphy, PEOPLE.com, "Christina Milian Shows Off Her Baby Bump While Out and About After Pregnancy Announcement," 1 Aug. 2019

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

19 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for olive

The first known use of olive was in 1600

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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 How to pronounce olive (audio) \

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 How to pronounce olive (audio) \

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

What made you want to look up olive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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