syl·​van | \ ˈsil-vən How to pronounce sylvan (audio) \

Definition of sylvan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: one that frequents groves or woods



Definition of sylvan (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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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: Adjective The park is not an outdoor destination now but a shell of its former — and, hopefully, future — self that looks nothing like billboards posted at the site picturing a sylvan wonderland. Washington Post, "For a D.C. park to be reborn, 63 trees must die before others take their place," 8 Aug. 2020 In Kelly Reichardt’s gorgeously sylvan First Cow, John Magaro and Orion Lee play Cookie Figowitz and King-Lu, two lonely souls in the 1820s Pacific Northwest brought together by a cow. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "The Best Movies of 2020 So Far," 28 May 2020 Our Typhoon swaggered into sylvan Ann Arbor dressed in inky, Texas-tea black. Arthur St. Antoine, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1992 GMC Typhoon," 19 May 2020 There is a wild creativity and feral quality to how the children, willing collaborators in this sylvan fairy tale, present themselves. Robert Frank, National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 24 Apr. 2020 As the sun rose over the sylvan acreage of Augusta National Golf Club this morning, piercing the pines with diagonal rays of hope, Tiger Woods. . Paul Daugherty,, "Doc's Morning Line: I hope there's a place that hits you in your soul as Augusta National hits me in mine," 8 Apr. 2020 In her early adulthood, Pelton painted nostalgic scenes of Grecian maidens in sylvan glades, two of which appeared in the seminal . Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Agnes Pelton Finally Gets Her Due With a Major New Show at the Whitney," 10 Mar. 2020 The History Despite being a sylvan summit, Park Hill actually got its name from Robert Parkhill Getty, a New York executive who owned a 25-acre estate on South Broadway. New York Times, "Park Hill, Yonkers, N.Y.: A ‘Secret Neighborhood’ Overlooking the Bronx," 12 Feb. 2020 The San Francisco Parks Alliance’s annual Party for the Parks fundraiser is, typically, held in some lush, sylvan grove amid our city’s mighty parks system. Catherine Bigelow,, "San Francisco parks donors come out to play and raise $700K," 19 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sylvan.' 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 sylvan


1565, in the meaning defined above


circa 1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sylvan


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

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The first known use of sylvan was in 1565

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Cite this Entry

“Sylvan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Sep. 2020.

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English Language Learners Definition of sylvan

literary : having a lot of woods or trees

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