Meaning of banyan in English:


Pronunciation /ˈbanjən/


(also banian)
  • 1

    (also banyan tree)
    An Indian fig tree, the branches of which produce wide-ranging aerial roots which later become accessory trunks.

    Ficus benghalensis, family Moraceae

    ‘The monument is a massive flagpole entwined with the trunk and branches of a symbolic banyan tree forged in steel.’
    • ‘Then it scampered off up the aerial roots of a nearby banyan tree.’
    • ‘A porter stops to rest under the shade of a huge banyan tree, its trunk twisting out of the earth and its umbrella-like branches arching over a granite stairway.’
    • ‘The branches of the banyan tree had apparently entered deep into a building on Patullos Road and posed a threat to the stability of the building.’
    • ‘The day includes the ceremonial watering of banyan trees to commemorate the banyan tree under which Buddha sat when he attained enlightenment.’
  • 2A loose flannel undergarment worn in India.

    ‘In their saris, salwar kameez, kurtas, t-shirts, trousers, lunghis and banians, people from Assam to Kerala, from Gujarat to Jharkhand, were gathering in Mumbai for the World Social Forum.’
    • ‘In contrast to more reserved garments like the banyan, the kilt became a symbol of a rough-hewn paradise.’
    • ‘Also of interest is a rare crimson damask banyan - an early precursor of the dressing gown - of early 18 th-century silk, worn by Thomas Severne, Gentleman of the Bed Chamber to King William III.’
    • ‘Nearly 75 per cent of our production goes to powerloom units and the balance to hosiery, banian and handloom sectors.’


Late 16th century from Portuguese, from Gujarati vāṇiyo ‘man of the trading caste’, from Sanskrit. Originally denoting a Hindu merchant, the term was applied, by Europeans in the mid 17th century, to a tree under which such traders had built a pagoda.