sylvan

1 of 2

noun

syl·​van ˈsil-vən How to pronounce sylvan (audio)
: one that frequents groves or woods

sylvan

2 of 2

adjective

1
a
: living or located in the woods or forest
b
: of, relating to, or characteristic of the woods or forest
2
a
: made, shaped, or formed of woods or trees
b
: abounding in woods, groves, or trees : wooded

Did you know?

See the Forest and the Trees With Sylva

In Latin, sylva means "wood" or "forest," and the related Sylvanus is the name of the Roman god of the woods and fields—a god sometimes identified with the Greek god Pan. These words gave rise to English sylvan in the 16th century. The English word was first used as a noun meaning "a mythological deity of the woods," eventually taking on the broader meaning "one who frequents the woods." The adjective sylvan followed soon after the noun and is now the more common word. Some other offspring of sylva (which can also be spelled silva) include silviculture ("a branch of forestry dealing with the development and care of forests"), sylvatic (a synonym of sylvan that can also mean "occurring in or affecting wild animals"), and the first name Sylvia.

Examples of sylvan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Recent controversy aside, a missile can hardly be considered a sylvan shallot without also being a soybean. Jay Pilgreen, Kansas City Star, 12 Feb. 2024 In this sylvan vision, wooden skylines will be erected with glued lumber laminates that rival steel and concrete in strength and reliability. William Booth, Washington Post, 31 Oct. 2023 Sash windows provide ample light and sylvan views, while French doors swing open to a heated sunroom overlooking the backyard. Mark David, Robb Report, 24 Oct. 2023 Its august and influential members frolic each year in the sylvan Bohemian Grove. Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 4 Apr. 2023
Adjective
The scenic drives from any direction include the sylvan splendor of some pristine patches of New England woods, gorges, and rivers. Richard Morgan, Condé Nast Traveler, 28 July 2022 So neither Danny nor I are surprised that this prequel opens on the sylvan fields of Valinor where Elven children play. Los Angeles Times, 4 Sep. 2022 Viewable by appointment between early June and mid September, and reachable only on foot, the cottage’s densely sylvan setting can be an interim destination. J.s. Marcus, WSJ, 17 Aug. 2022 Temporary departures from the sylvan landscape for professional activities are prohibited, but the place has been known to have a hold on people. New York Times, 6 July 2022 The sylvan property set on a 2,600-acre nature preserve has been hosting the tribute since 1988, a year after the movie’s release. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, 29 July 2022 Consider the hectares and hectares of fences and hedges, often erected at considerable cost to transform a yard, and certainly a pool, into an owner’s sylvan duchy. Karen Heller, Washington Post, 20 July 2022 The real-life correlate of Circe's isle is a singular place, with a beauty that is still almost completely sylvan. Maria Shollenbarger, Travel + Leisure, 20 June 2022 Backpackers will find primitive camping and trailside shelters amid the sylvan charm of the Berkshires. Alison Van Houten, Outside Online, 6 June 2019

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Medieval Latin silvanus, sylvanus, from Latin silva, sylva wood

First Known Use

Noun

1565, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

circa 1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of sylvan was in 1565

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Cite this Entry

“Sylvan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sylvan. Accessed 18 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

sylvan

adjective
syl·​van
variants also silvan
ˈsil-vən
1
a
: living or located in the woods or forest
b
: of, relating to, or characteristic of the woods or forest
2
: having lots of woods or trees : wooded

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