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banyan

[ban-yuh n] /ˈbæn yən/
noun
1.
Also called banyan tree. an East Indian fig tree, Ficus benghalensis, of the mulberry family, having branches that send out adventitious roots to the ground and sometimes cause the tree to spread over a wide area.
2.
Also, bania, baniya.
  1. a Hindu trader or merchant of a particular caste, the rules of which forbid eating flesh.
  2. a loose shirt, jacket, or gown.
Also, banian.
Origin
1590-1600
1590-1600; < Portuguese (perhaps < Arabic) < Gujarati vāṇiyo (singular) or vāṇiyā (plural) member of the merchant caste (compare Prakrit vāṇiaya, Sanskrit vāṇija trader); the tree is said to have taken its name from a particular tree of the species near which merchants had built a booth; source of final nasal uncertain
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for banyan-tree

banyan

/ˈbænjən/
noun
1.
a moraceous tree, Ficus benghalensis, of tropical India and the East Indies, having aerial roots that grow down into the soil forming additional trunks
2.
a member of the Hindu merchant caste of N and W India
3.
a loose-fitting shirt, jacket, or robe, worn originally in India
Word Origin
C16: from Hindi baniyā, from Sanskrit vānija merchant
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 banyan-tree

banyan

n.

"Indian fig tree," 1630s, so called in reference to a tree on the Iranian coast of the Persian Gulf under which the Hindu merchants known as banians had built a pagoda. From Sanskrit vanija "merchant."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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