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From Latin arboreus (tree-like) +‎ -al, mid-17th century.




  1. Of, relating to, or resembling a tree.
    • 1650, Walter Charleton (translator), “Of the Magnetick Cure of Wounds” in A Ternary of Paradoxes, by Jan Baptist van Helmont, London: William Lee, p. 72,[1]
      High and sacred, in good troth, is the power of the microcosmical spirit, which without any arboreal trunck produceth a true Cherry:
    • 1919, T. S. Eliot, “Whispers of Immortality” in Selected Poems, Penguin, 1948,[2]
      The sleek Brazilian jaguar
      Does not in its arboreal gloom
      Distil so rank a feline smell
      As Grishkin in a drawing-room.
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses, London: The Egoist Press, p. 282,[3]
      In the mild breezes of the west and of the east lofty trees wave in different directions their first class foliage, the wafty sycamore, the Lebanonian cedar, the exalted planetree, the eugenic eucalyptus and other ornaments of the arboreal world with which that region is thoroughly well supplied.
    • 1979, William Styron, Sophie’s Choice, New York: Random House, Chapter 2, p. 37,[4]
      Only short blocks away traffic flowed turbulently on Flatbush Avenue [] but here the arboreal green and the pollen-hazy light, the infrequent trucks and cars, the casual pace of the few strollers at the park’s border all created the effect of an outlying area in a modest Southern city []
  2. Living in or among trees.
    • 1872, Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, London: Odhams Press, 6th edition, Chapter 7, p. 233,[5]
      If the harvest mouse had been more strictly arboreal, it would perhaps have had its tail rendered structurally prehensile, as is the case with some members of the same order.
    • 1911, Ambrose Bierce, “monkey”, in The Devil's Dictionary (The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce)‎[6], New York: The Neale Publishing Company:
      An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in genealogical trees.
    • 2002, Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Book 3, p. 239,[7]
      [] faced with this emergency, Tessie took Chapter Eleven and me up to the attic. Maybe it was a vestige of our arboreal past; we wanted to climb up and out of danger.
  3. Covered or filled with trees.
    Synonym: arboreous
    • 1885, Richard Jefferies, “Forest” in The Open Air, London: Chatto and Windus, p. 188,[8]
      The breadth of the arboreal landscape requires a longer list of living creatures, and creatures of greater bulk.
    • 1945, Elizabeth Bowen, “The Demon Lover” in The Demon Lover and Other Stories, London: Jonathan Cape, p. 96,[9]
      She married him, and the two of them settled down in this quiet, arboreal part of Kensington:
    • 1995, Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory, New York: Knopf, Part 3, Chapter 7, p. 426,[10]
      mountains, unlike the arboreal garden and the sacred stream, had gone unmentioned in the account of Creation given in Genesis

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arboreal (plural arboreals)

  1. Any tree-dwelling creature.
    • 1971, Theo Lang, The difference between a man and a woman
      So, by learning to use their eyes to more and more advantage the arboreals added another treasure to the foundation of human intelligence.