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[ey-lan-thuh s] /eɪˈlæn θəs/
noun, plural ailanthuses.
any tree belonging to the genus Ailanthus, of the quassia family, especially A. altissima, widely grown in cities.
Compare tree of heaven.
Origin of ailanthus
Central Moluccan
1788; < New Latin Ailantus, Ailanthus (th by association with Greek ánthos flower) < Central Moluccan ai lanit(o), ai lanit(e), equivalent to ai tree, wood + lanit sky + -o, -e a definite article
Related forms
ailanthic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ailanthus
Historical Examples
  • She had noticed the day before that the ailanthus was growing dusty.

  • Even the ailanthus blossoms had ceased their snow-like dropping.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • The June moon had risen, sending broken shafts of white light through the ailanthus to the house door.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • The ailanthus, or "Tree of Heaven," is best raised in this way.

  • Recent additions are the eucalyptus, casuarina, Pinus pinea and ailanthus.

  • The ailanthus worm is a native of Japan and of the north of China.

    The Insect World Louis Figuier
  • Max, cigarette in hand, was coming across, under the ailanthus tree.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • The ailanthus tree waved in the moonlight and sent sprawling shadows over the wall of K. Le Moyne's bedroom.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • This is the ailanthus, a large tree which you have often seen in the village, and which used to be popular as a shade-tree.

    Among the Trees at Elmridge Ella Rodman Church
  • The ailanthus trees were bare at that time, throwing gaunt arms upward to the November sky.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
British Dictionary definitions for ailanthus


noun (pl) -thuses
an E Asian simaroubaceous deciduous tree, Ailanthus altissima, planted in Europe and North America, having pinnate leaves, small greenish flowers, and winged fruits Also called tree of heaven
Word Origin
C19: New Latin, from native name (in Amboina) ai lanto tree (of) the gods
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ailanthus

"tree of heaven," 1807, Modern Latin, from Amboyna (Malay) ailanto "tree of the gods;" spelling altered by influence of Greek anthos "flower" (see anther).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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