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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Long Beach Shakespeare Company returns to in-person performance with this sylvan fantasy. Los Angeles Times, 19 Aug. 2021 Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum presents abridged versions — 80 minutes each, without intermission — of Shakespeare’s political thriller as well as the Bard’s sylvan fantasy. Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2021 The aural accompaniment to a Wolf Trap stroll is one of several versions of Reid’s real-life soundtrack, whose other editions can be heard in New York’s Central Park, Los Angeles’s Griffith Park and additional sylvan locations. Washington Post, 22 Apr. 2021 Service is friendly and polished, the look stylishly sylvan. Travel + Leisure Staff, Travel + Leisure, 19 Feb. 2020 The climb to 900-foot-high South Mountain in this more than 5,000-acre state park offers sylvan views as well as possible sightings of dark-eyed juncos and hermit thrushes, species more typically found farther north in the state. Jeanine Barone,, 4 Mar. 2021 The sylvan landscape hints at the region's rural past before the suburban sprawl of the 1950s and 1960s. Scott Wartman, The Enquirer, 7 Oct. 2020 Each property contains about 30 to 50 structures on double-digit acres of sylvan land. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, 11 Sep. 2020 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, 8 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About sylvan

Listen to Our Podcast About sylvan

Dictionary Entries Near sylvan




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for sylvan

Cite this Entry

“Sylvan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sylvan



English Language Learners Definition of sylvan

: having a lot of woods or trees

More from Merriam-Webster on sylvan

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sylvan


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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