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[yoo] /yu/
any of several evergreen, coniferous trees and shrubs of the genera Taxus and Torreya, constituting the family Taxaceae, of the Old World, North America, and Japan, having needlelike or scalelike foliage and seeds enclosed in a fleshy aril.
the fine-grained, elastic wood of any of these trees.
an archer's bow made of this wood.
this tree or its branches as a symbol of sorrow, death, or resurrection.
Origin of yew1
before 900; Middle English ew(e), Old English ēow, ī(o)w; cognate with Old High German īga, īwa (Middle High German īwe, German Eibe), Old Norse ýr, MIr yew (Old Irish: stem, shaft), Welsh ywen yew tree, Russian íva willow
Can be confused
ewe, yew, you.


[yoo; unstressed yoo] /yu; unstressed yʊ/
pronoun, Eye Dialect.
you. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for yew
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The summer-house of yew trees sheltered him when he smoked in the garden, and in this garden he planted Tobacco.

    Old-Time Gardens Alice Morse Earle
  • He moved a little from the yew tree, and whispered: "Megan!"

    Five Tales John Galsworthy
  • Mingled with yew, which is the emblem of the Resurrection, it forms an appropriate decoration for Easter.

  • It's bounded by a yew hedge, beyond which there is a path shaded by mulberry-trees.

    The Spinster Robert Hichens
  • yew is an evergreen tree with a leaf looking a great deal like that of redwood, hemlock, or fir at a distance.

  • "Why, Miss Nell, it be yew sure enough," she said pleasantly.

    Nell, of Shorne Mills Charles Garvice
  • By the way, you appear to like the shade of the yew trees outside.

  • You would do right; the yew is indeed a venerable tree, but it is not about the yew.

    Lavengro George Borrow
British Dictionary definitions for yew


any coniferous tree of the genus Taxus, of the Old World and North America, esp T. baccata, having flattened needle-like leaves, fine-grained elastic wood, and solitary seeds with a red waxy aril resembling berries: family Taxaceae
the wood of any of these trees, used to make bows for archery
(archery) a bow made of yew
Word Origin
Old English īw; related to Old High German īwa, Old Norse ӯr yew, Latin ūva grape, Russian iva willow
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 yew

Old English iw, eow "yew," from Proto-Germanic *iwa-/*iwo- (cf. Middle Dutch iwe, Dutch ijf, Old High German iwa, German Eibe, Old Norse yr), from PIE *ei-wo- (cf. Old Irish eo, Welsh ywen "yew"), perhaps a suffixed form of *ei- "reddish, motley, yellow." OED says French if, Spanish iva, Medieval Latin ivus are from Germanic (and says Dutch ijf is from French); others posit a Gaulish ivos as the source of these. Lithuanian jeva likewise is said to be from Germanic. The tree symbolizes both death and immortality, being poisonous as well as long-lived.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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