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Old English plante "young tree or shrub, herb newly planted," from Latin planta "sprout, shoot, cutting" (source of Spanish planta, French plante), perhaps from *plantare "to drive in with the feet, push into the ground with the feet," from planta "sole of the foot," from nasalized form of PIE *plat- "to spread, flat" (see place (n.)).
Broader sense of "any vegetable life, vegetation generally" is first recorded 1550s. Most extended usages are from the verb, on the notion of "something planted;" e.g. "construction for an industrial process," 1789, at first with reference to the set-up of machinery, later also the building; also slang meaning "a spy" (1812). Many of these follow similar developments in the French form of the word. German Pflanz, Irish cland, Welsh plant are from Latin.
"put in the ground to grow," Old English plantian, from Latin plantare (see plant (n.)). Reinforced by cognate Old French planter. Without reference to growing, "to insert firmly," late 14c. Of colonies from c.1300. Figuratively, of ideas, etc., from early 15c. Meaning "to bury" is U.S. slang from U.S., 1855. Related: Planted; planting.
Any of a wide variety of multicellular eukaryotic organisms, belonging to the kingdom Plantae and including the bryophytes and vascular plants. Plant cells have cell walls made of cellulose. Except for a few specialized symbionts, plants have chlorophyll and manufacture their own food through photosynthesis. Most plants grow in a fixed location and reproduce sexually, showing an alternation of generations between a diploid stage (with each cell having two sets of chromosomes) and haploid stage (with each cell having one set of chromosomes) in their life cycle. The first fossil plants date from the Silurian period. Formerly the algae, slime molds, dinoflagellates, and fungi, among other groups, were classified as plants, but now these are considered to belong to other kingdoms. See Table at taxonomy.