Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of numerous flowerless, seedless vascular plants that produce spores giving rise to free-living gametophytes and that often have dissected leaves.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Ancient; old; former; past; previous.
  • Distant; remote; far off.
  • noun One of a large group of vascular cryptogamous plants, constituting the natural order Filices.
  • Long ago; long before.
  • noun In Australia, Ophioderma pendula.
  • noun The royal fern, Osmunda regalis, which grows in low, wet situations and is thus associated popularly with snakes. See Osmunda.
  • noun In Australia, Grammitis australis, a small species with simple leaves.
  • noun Same as floating-fern. See Ceratopteris.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Bot.) An order of cryptogamous plants, the Filices, which have their fructification on the back of the fronds or leaves. They are usually found in humid soil, sometimes grow epiphytically on trees, and in tropical climates often attain a gigantic size.
  • noun See under Christmas.
  • noun (Bot.) a delicate North American fern (Lygodium palmatum), which climbs several feet high over bushes, etc., and is much sought for purposes of decoration.
  • noun (Zoöl.), [Eng.] a fern thicket.
  • noun [Prov. Eng.] The short-eared owl.
  • adverb obsolete Long ago.
  • adjective Ancient; old. [Obs.] “Pilgrimages to … ferne halwes.” [saints].

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of a group of some twenty thousand species of vascular plants classified in the Division Pteridophyta (formerly known by some as Filicophyta) that lacks seeds and reproduces by shedding spores to initiate an alternation of generations.

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

  • noun any of numerous flowerless and seedless vascular plants having true roots from a rhizome and fronds that uncurl upward; reproduce by spores

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old English fearn; see per- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English fearn, from Proto-Germanic *farnan (cf. Dutch varen, German Farn), from Proto-Indo-European *pornóm 'wing, feather' (cf. Lithuanian spar̃nas, Albanian fier 'fern', Avestan parəna, Sanskrit parṇám), from *per- 'feather' (cf. Tocharian B parwa, Old Church Slavonic pero).

Examples

  • We have had only one fall of snow, and that a light one; but the fern is already lying on the ground, prostrate, as in spring.

    Rural Hours

  • The fern is going to respond to the fertilizer but it isn't going to understand biochemistry no matter how often I explain it.

    Doctor Who...another way to fix JE...

  • (The monkey fern is a favorite even though it is a little creepy.)

    Exotica « Awful Library Books

  • Obviously, I'm repeating myself here, but this fern is worth mentioning again, a second time to point out that it is commercially available exclusively from Edenspace Systems Corporation.

    Archive 2006-03-01

  • Obviously, I'm repeating myself here, but this fern is worth mentioning again, a second time to point out that it is commercially available exclusively from Edenspace Systems Corporation.

    Edenfern™

  • Seems it's an area that is richer in fern species than any other part of Mexico.

    Oaxaca Journal by Oliver Sacks

  • Seems it's an area that is richer in fern species than any other part of Mexico.

    Oaxaca Journal by Oliver Sacks

  • The groups er, ir, ur (finally or before a consonant) are not intended to be pronounced as in English fern, fir, fur, but rather is English air. eer, oor.

    The Lord of the Rings

  • Knee-deep in fern we stand while the days of the sun-time go;

    The Watchman and Other Poems

  • The Comptonia or sweet-fern is in flower, the brown, catkin-like blossoms are nearly as fragrant as the foliage; it is the only fern we have with woody branches.

    Rural Hours

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  • names

    April 29, 2009