xy·​lem ˈzī-ləm How to pronounce xylem (audio)
: a complex tissue in the vascular system of higher plants that consists of vessels, tracheids, or both usually together with wood fibers and parenchyma cells, functions chiefly in conduction of water and dissolved minerals but also in support and food storage, and typically constitutes the woody element (as of a plant stem) compare phloem

Examples of xylem in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Bacteria can block the xylem vessels in the stems of cut flowers, which prevents them from absorbing water and nutrients. Maryal Miller Carter, USA TODAY, 11 May 2023 The pushpin-size insects, who expend most of their energy vacuuming up xylem fluid, lack the energy required to produce a stream, forcing them to pee in a more creative way. Jack Tamisiea, Scientific American, 28 Feb. 2023 Researchers said the noises are the sound of popping air bubbles, which plants produce in their xylem, a tissue that moves water. Kyle Melnick, Washington Post, 4 Apr. 2023 Towering redwoods and lanky jungle vines hoist water from the soil to their lofty leaves through a tubelike tissue called the xylem. Elise Cutts, Scientific American, 18 Jan. 2023 The xylem helps to transport water, while the phloem helps move nutrients and sugars. Monica Cull, Discover Magazine, 21 Oct. 2022 Even so, this activity damages the xylem, the water-transport tissues that keep the tree’s canopy hydrated. Miri Talabac, Baltimore Sun, 13 Oct. 2022 Some think immature cicadas, called nymphs, measure the 17-year time underground through the sap in a tree’s xylem. Ross Kenneth Urken, Scientific American, 14 June 2021 Drinking xylem would be a bit like drinking a 2-by-4 or as one of our staff more accurately opined, drinking your straw! Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, 14 May 2021 See More

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

Word History


German, from Greek xylon

First Known Use

1873, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of xylem was in 1873

Dictionary Entries Near xylem

Cite this Entry

“Xylem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/xylem. Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


xy·​lem ˈzī-ləm How to pronounce xylem (audio)
: a tissue of higher plants that carries water and dissolved materials upward, functions also in support and storage, lies deeper inside the plant than the phloem, and usually makes up the woody parts (as of a plant stem) compare phloem

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