sax·​ic·​o·​lous sak-ˈsi-kə-ləs How to pronounce saxicolous (audio)
: inhabiting or growing among rocks
saxicolous lichens

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Saxicolous. It's not a word that exactly rolls off the tongue, but it's a useful designation for botanists. The word is from Latin, naturally. "Saxum" is Latin for rock, and "colous" (meaning "living or growing in or on") traces back to Latin -cola meaning "inhabitant." Other "colous" offspring include "arenicolous" ("living, burrowing, or growing in sand"), "cavernicolous" ("inhabiting caves"), and "nidicolous" ("living in a nest" or "sharing the nest of another kind of animal"). All of these words were coined in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to describe the flora and fauna of our world.

Examples of saxicolous in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Where rolling stones gain no saxicolous moss. Washington Post, 12 Aug. 2021

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

Word History


Latin saxum rock (akin to Latin secare to cut) + English -colous — more at saw

First Known Use

1856, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of saxicolous was in 1856


Dictionary Entries Near saxicolous

Cite this Entry

“Saxicolous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

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