Definitions

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

  • n. A usually dense, cylindrical, often drooping cluster of unisexual apetalous flowers found in willows, birches, and oaks. Also called ament1.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A type of inflorescence, consisting of a slender axis with many unisexual apetalous flowers along its sides, as in the willow and poplar.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An ament; a species of inflorescence, consisting of a slender axis with many unisexual apetalous flowers along its sides, as in the willow and poplar, and (as to the staminate flowers) in the chestnut, oak, hickory, etc. -- so called from its resemblance to a cat's tail. See Illust. of ament.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In botany, a scaly spike of unisexual flowers, usually deciduous after flowering or fruiting, as in the willow and birch; an ament. Also called cattail.

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

  • n. a cylindrical spikelike inflorescence

Etymologies

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

From obsolete Dutch katteken, kitten, diminutive of katte, cat (from its resemblance to a kitten's tail), from Germanic *kattuz.

Examples

  • Catten or catkin is the term I like for the felines at that age.

    Blog Find of 2009 « Barefoot in the Kitchen

  • The male flower, called a catkin, looks like a full-blown erection.

    The Fruit Hunters

  • The correct spelling of "catkin," defined as a cluster of willow tree blossoms, produced a gasp from the audience.

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  • A. Pussy willows 'buds form the previous fall and open during February and early March to reveal their delightful petal-less, fuzzy silver "catkin" flowers.

    The Taunton Gazette Home RSS

  • Try as I might I cannot relocate it within its microworld and the more I handle its catkin inner sanctum the more it crumbles under my weight.

    Country diary: Claxton, Norfolk

  • Through the catkin's core is a long green stem from which radiate tiny branchlets.

    Country diary: Claxton, Norfolk

  • Although this year's catkin display looked disappointingly dull and thin compared with previous years, the golden danglers full of pollen were only the male flowers.

    Country Diary: Wenlock Edge

  • Click here for a picture of the catkin in "full bloom."

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • After pollination, the distended catkin wilts and sags, becoming increasingly brown and shriveled, until it falls to the forest floor with a dank damp thud.

    The Fruit Hunters

  • On another nearby catkin, cell-phone-sized white slugs are also munching on blossoms.

    The Fruit Hunters

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