Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The art of growing dwarfed, ornamentally shaped trees or shrubs in small shallow pots or trays.
  • n. A tree or shrub grown by this method.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tree or plant that has been miniaturized by restriction of its roots and by careful pruning.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a dwarfed ornamental tree or shrub grown in a tray or shallow pot

Etymologies

Japanese, potted plant : bon, basin (from Middle Chinese bən) + sai, to plant (from Middle Chinese tsəj, tsaj).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Japanese 盆栽 (bonsai). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  •   "This variation of bonsai is Japanese Red Maple," the host explained.

    Garden

  • The word bonsai is used in the West as an umbrella term for all miniature trees in containers or pots.

    How To-Bonsai In Hypertufa « Fairegarden

  • It's also used in small, desktop rock gardens and as a base in Japanese bonsai-tree kits.

    Word to Poachers

  • "You can't drive down a block on Beacon Hill without seeing them," says Joel Lee of the plant sculptures he refers to as bonsai on his popular neighborhood blog.

    The Seattle Times

  • In Chinese, the word bonsai means 'tree in a pot'.

    Apartment Therapy Main

  • Smells delish, but the bonsai is still a little strong, so it could be lowered a little more:) It has bentonite clay beads in the top layer, and black oxide sprinkled/dusted dry between the layers.

    Bonsai & Pineapple Cilantro

  • A bonsai is a normal tree whose development is not halted but rather guided in order to obtain a healthy miniaturised tree.

    The Hindu - Front Page

  • Small has always been beautiful in Japan, whether you think of the mini-component audio systems the country pioneered in the 1970s, its cultural love affair with miniaturized potted plants known as bonsai, or the current rage for small-engine mini-cars.

    BusinessWeek.com -- Top News

  • "We tell new people that your bonsai is your idea," Cavalli said, noting that the group is open to people of all levels.

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  • There are several varieties of this twisted specimen most prized for bonsai, which is why we have one sitting in a bonsai-in-waiting pot.

    HeraldTimesOnline.com

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