sap·​ling | \ ˈsa-pliŋ How to pronounce sapling (audio) , -plən \

Definition of sapling

1 : a young tree specifically : one not over four inches (about 10 centimeters) in diameter at breast height

Examples of sapling in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Thin and limber as sugarcane, and spiked with tiny yellow flowers in the spring, coyote willow is ever a sapling, throwing scarcely enough shade to cool a panting cow. Andrew Mckean, Outdoor Life, "Willow Creek: An Obscure Stream Shapes Life, Death, and Landscape," 16 Apr. 2020 The trees — their botanical name is Liriodendron tulipifera — were saplings, from seven to 10 years old and all around 10 feet tall, their skinny trunks extending from root balls being dropped into holes. Kathleen Beckett, New York Times, "Marie Antoinette Would Be Proud," 6 Apr. 2020 The Bruins’ saplings from that 2017 class have yet to bear NHL fruit, but things are promising., "Boston College coach Jerry York a worthy Hall of Famer - The Boston Globe," 16 Nov. 2019 While in town, Kaye decided to undertake another project: a ten-foot-by-eight-foot yarn installation of outback animals encircling a sapling, to raise awareness of the Australian wildfires. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "Crochet for a Cause," 10 Feb. 2020 Decaying trees littering the forest floor become tinder for forest fires — which are disastrous for the environment — and crowd out younger saplings, which when given room to grow actually suck in greater quantities of CO2. Charlie Campbell / Shanghai, Time, "How the Trade War is Hurting the U.S. Lumber Industry and Forests Around the World," 27 Nov. 2019 Planted by hundreds of volunteers who replaced damaged and diseased trees with healthy (and happy) saplings grown by prison inmates, the trees derive their name from artist and television personality Bob Ross’ signature catchphrase. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Michigan Plants 1,000 ‘Happy Little Trees’ in Honor of Bob Ross," 6 Sep. 2019 Volunteers will install saplings on private property along the tornado’s path. Holly Haber, Dallas News, "A giving spirit takes root: Kids commit to bringing back trees destroyed by October tornado," 31 Mar. 2020 Sweat lodges are typically built low to the ground, with frames made of saplings that are covered with animal hides, blankets or even tarps to keep in the steam. USA TODAY, "Sinking a ferry, lifting a yoga ban, limiting cash bail: News from around our 50 states," 10 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sapling.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of sapling

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sapling

Time Traveler for sapling

Time Traveler

The first known use of sapling was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for sapling

Last Updated

20 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sapling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sapling


How to pronounce sapling (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sapling

: a young tree


sap·​ling | \ ˈsa-pliŋ How to pronounce sapling (audio) \

Kids Definition of sapling

: a young tree

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on sapling

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sapling

Spanish Central: Translation of sapling

Nglish: Translation of sapling for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sapling for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sapling

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!