Definitions

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

  • adjective Of or characterized by the clipping or trimming of live shrubs or trees into decorative shapes, as of animals.
  • noun Topiary work or art.
  • noun A topiary garden.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In gardening, clipped or cut into ornamental shapes; also, of or pertaining to such trimming. Topiary work is the clipping and trimming of trees and shrubs into regular or fantastic shapes.

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

  • adjective Of or pertaining to ornamental gardening; produced by cutting, trimming, etc.; topiarian.
  • adjective arbors, shrubbery, hedges, or the like, cut and trimmed into fanciful forms, as of animals, buildings, etc.

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

  • adjective In the manner of a topiary.
  • adjective Of, or relating to art of topiaries.
  • noun countable A garden decorated with shrubs which have been trimmed in artistic shapes, often of animals.
  • noun countable One such shrub or tree.
  • noun uncountable Topiary gardening.

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

  • noun a garden having shrubs clipped or trimmed into decorative shapes especially of animals
  • noun making decorative shapes by trimming shrubs or trees

Etymologies

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

[Latin topiārius, from topia, ornamental gardening, from Greek topia, pl. of topion, field, diminutive of topos, place.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin topiarius ("of or relating to ornamental gardening; an ornamental garden, an ornamental gardener"), from Ancient Greek τόπια (topia, "artistic representation in which natural or artificial features of a place are used as the medium"), from τόπος (topos, "place"). The adjective use dates to 1592, the noun use dates to 1908.

Examples

  • In that sense, topiary is almost the opposite of arborsculpture in that you're only trimming the foliage, whereas in arborsculpture, you're only working with the trunk.

    Boing Boing: July 23, 2006 - July 29, 2006 Archives

  • It features the new Bouquet Bunch stamp set from the Summer Mini and lining up the topiary was a cinch with the new clear mount stamps.

    Summer Mini Catalog Sneak Peek - Day 2

  • It features the new Bouquet Bunch stamp set from the Summer Mini and lining up the topiary was a cinch with the new clear mount stamps.

    Archive 2010-04-01

  • Topiary was originally defined as ornamental gardening, so you could say, to be technical, that arborsculpture is a branch of topiary, but the word topiary is more commonly used to describe the shaping of foliage.

    Boing Boing: July 23, 2006 - July 29, 2006 Archives

  • When a number of such trees are growing together, the place is called a topiary, and lately people who can afford the money have been contriving topiaries in some parts of their grounds.

    Chatterbox, 1906

  • The croquet match in the topiary is a standout, and Nolan's flair for visual effects is confirmed by the now famous scene in which the King whips off his powdered gray "hair" to reveal that, all along, it has been a wig.

    The New Yorker

  • Scenery involves aesthetics that raise guest happiness slightly, such as topiary art, lightposts, or benches.

    xml's Blinklist.com

  • I try to hide behind the topiary and follow the Phils-Nationals game on my Droid, but gardeners run me to earth.

    Dreading the Arrival of Daffodils

  • Created by designer Paola Navone and inspired by the art of topiary, it will not only make for a comfortable seating experience surrounded by nature, but also for a true figurative art for your garden.

    Garden Furniture by Patricia Urquiola

  • Inspired by the ancient art of topiary, these sofas, armchairs and tables have been crafted in a light and minimal fashion to expose only the versatility of metal.

    Garden Furniture by Patricia Urquiola

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • The art of clipping or trimming foliage or flower arrangements so they take on the shapes of animals, lettering, numbers, or various but precise geometric forms.

    October 31, 2007

  • As popularized by Edward Scissorhands, maybe?

    October 31, 2007

  • Is topiary the art form itself, or the object produced from said art? Or both?

    November 1, 2007

  • such a fine word. just rolls off the tongue

    April 14, 2008

  • "The man who grows his sideburns long is expressing something about his class and his age group. The man who lets his cheek whiskers grow in tufts or shaves his sideburns off is also projecting some part of a chosen self-image. All kinds of curious facial topiary are accepted provided that they have some kind of pedigree within our cultural position."

    - 'One man's mutilation is another man's beautification', Germaine Greer in The Madwoman's Underclothes.

    September 1, 2008