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[kuh-tal-puh] /kəˈtæl pə/
any of several trees constituting the genus Catalpa, of the bignonia family, especially C. speciosa, of the central U.S., or C. bignonioides, of the southern U.S., having opposite, sometimes whorled leaves, clusters of white flowers, and long, beanlike seed pods.
Also called Indian bean.
Origin of catalpa
1720-30, Americanism; (< New Latin) < Creek katałpa, equivalent to ka-, combining form of iká head + tałpa wing (apparently so called from the shape of the flower) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for catalpa
Historical Examples
  • But then, you see, there was enough saved from the wreckage after all to keep me alive, and Miss catalpa smiled again.

    Ruth Fielding Down in Dixie Alice B. Emerson
  • catalpa is a tree singularly free from destructive diseases.

    Seasoning of Wood Joseph B. Wagner
  • Probably ninety per cent of all the catalpa ever cut has gone into fence posts.

    American Forest Trees Henry H. Gibson
  • I am not the man you knew—except in loving you I am not the man who sat with you beneath the catalpa.

    Lewis Rand Mary Johnston
  • Corolla of catalpa laid open, displaying two good stamens and three abortive ones or vestiges.

  • The Indian then gently supported him, and seated him against the trunk of the catalpa, at whose foot he had been hitherto lying.

    The Prairie Flower Gustave Aimard
  • How often did she sigh beneath the catalpa, as if anxious to trust the winds with a message of love to other lands!

    The Poor Gentleman Hendrik Conscience
  • These flowers, which resemble the blossom of the catalpa, constitute one of the crests of the Mikado of Japan.

  • Steud., is a large tree native of China with the aspect of the catalpa with broad opposite leaves.

    Forest Trees of Illinois Fuller George D.
  • Due to his efforts, and otherwise, catalpa was for a time the most advertised plantation tree in this country.

    American Forest Trees Henry H. Gibson
British Dictionary definitions for catalpa


any bignoniaceous tree of the genus Catalpa of North America and Asia, having large leaves, bell-shaped whitish flowers, and long slender pods
Word Origin
C18: New Latin, from Carolina Creek kutuhlpa, literally: winged head, referring to the appearance of the flowers
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 catalpa

c.1740, from an American Indian language of the Carolinas, perhaps Creek (Muskogean) /katalpa/, literally "head-wing."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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