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[kat-kin] /ˈkæt kɪn/
noun, Botany
a spike of unisexual, apetalous flowers having scaly, usually deciduous bracts, as of a willow or birch.
Also called ament.
1570-80; < Dutch katteken little cat (now obsolete). See cat, -kin
Related forms
[kat-kuh-neyt] /ˈkæt kəˌneɪt/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for catkin
  • They produce yellowish cream colored catkin flowers in the spring, followed by seed pods varying in shape and size.
  • Each catkin at the tip of twigs is formed of many flowers.
  • catkin becomes fascinated by a butterfly and forgets his duty.
  • In the spring, the catkin will open and give off pollen.
  • Fall treatment is effective during catkin development.
British Dictionary definitions for catkin


an inflorescence consisting of a spike, usually hanging, of much reduced flowers of either sex: occurs in birch, hazel, etc Also called ament
Word Origin
C16: from obsolete Dutch katteken kitten, identical in meaning with French chaton, German Kätzchen
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 catkin

1570s, from Dutch katteken "flowering stem of willow, birch, hazel, etc.," literally "kitten," diminutive of katte "cat" (see cat (n.)). So called for their soft, furry appearance.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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catkin in Science
A long, thin, indeterminate inflorescence of tiny, petalless flowers growing on willows, birches, oaks, poplars, and certain other trees. The flowers on a catkin are either all male or all female. The female flowers are usually pollinated by the wind. Also called ament. See illustration at inflorescence.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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