phy·​ton ˈfī-ˌtän How to pronounce phyton (audio)
: a structural unit of a plant consisting of a leaf and its associated portion of stem
: the smallest part of a stem, root, or leaf that when severed may grow into a new plant
phytonic adjective

Word History


borrowed from French, borrowed from Greek phytón "plant" — more at phyto-

Note: Term introduced by the French botanist Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré (1789-1854) in "Recherches générales sur l'organographie, la physiologie et l'organogénie des végétaux," Mémoires présentés par divers savants à l'Académie Royale des Sciences de l'Institut de France: Sciences mathématiques et physiques, tome huitième (1843), p. 6. Offprints of the article, apparently released before the entire volume was published, are dated 1841.

First Known Use

1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of phyton was in 1846

Dictionary Entries Near phyton

Cite this Entry

“Phyton.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

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