Main definitions of prune in English

: prune1prune2

prune1

noun

  • 1A plum preserved by drying and having a black, wrinkled appearance.

    • ‘However, just as raisins seem different from grapes, so do prunes appear to be distinct from plums.’
    • ‘Sneak some raisins or puréed prunes or zucchini into whole-wheat pancakes.’
    • ‘European plums have a thick, firm flesh that make excellent prunes, preserves, or desert fruit.’
    • ‘This time I had semi-dried black figs, large white figs, prunes, mirabelles (a kind of plum), and pears, all of which are from France.’
    • ‘From a nutritional perspective, prunes are like raisins.’
    • ‘I like the concept of this recipe. It's beef and lamb but the spices are cinnamon and ginger and pepper and there's dried prunes and apricots in it too.’
    • ‘Otherwise, I'll prepare my own crunchy muesli by mixing prunes or apricot, honey, lemon and cloves with low-fat yogurt.’
    • ‘Also on offer: quail with pecans and nuts, rabbit with prunes and cumin, beef tortillas, delicious sweet potato and nicely seasoned rice.’
    • ‘Each is studded with liquor-soaked prunes, adding soft, sweet little bites that meld perfectly with intense dark chocolate.’
  • 2informal An unpleasant or disagreeable person.

    ‘he was a good leader, but a right miserable old prune’
    • ‘Even pathetic old prunes have their moment in the glare of the gossip mags’
    • ‘McGregor has some good company: that miserable old prune Hugh Morgan (another complete AO) is also a distinguished fellow.’
    • ‘I had to put up with all these melodramatic old prunes (not just older people, but people of my own age as well) saying that my life was over, and oh, i would never be able to do my degree and get a good job, and oh, it is such a shame!’
    • ‘‘Give me that,’ Corie said to Mrs Mood, snatching the paper away from the old prune.’
    • ‘And no, I'm not turning into some old prune who never wears make-up and who lives in trackie-bottoms.’

Origin

Middle English from Old French, via Latin from Greek prou(m)non ‘plum’.

Pronunciation

prune

/pruːn/

Main definitions of prune in English

: prune1prune2

prune2

verb

[with object]
  • 1Trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to encourage growth.

    ‘now is the time to prune roses’
    no object ‘to limit growth, prune in summer’
    • ‘Late February is an optimum time to prune trees and shrubs in your landscape.’
    • ‘When cleaning out the dead debris from flowerbeds, also prune any shrubs and push plants back into the soil that have heaved with the frosts.’
    • ‘I pruned the rose bushes and gave them a good soaking - it has been a dry winter.’
    • ‘Be sure and wait to prune shrubs that flower on last year's growth after they bloom.’
    • ‘Over the last 12 months we have spent a great deal of time pruning and thinning overgrown shrubs in both the front and back garden.’
    • ‘For instance, apple trees flower on wood several years old, so you would prune the tree only to strengthen the fruit-bearing branches.’
    • ‘In the late morning and all afternoon we worked outside, R clearing and tidying flower beds, pruning shrubs and potting up some flowers.’
    • ‘Ideally, you should start pruning your tree to limit its size before it reaches full size.’
    • ‘Repot root-bound houseplants and prune any that are looking very ragged.’
    • ‘Gently prune large, slow-growing shrubs such as witch hazel, magnolia and Japanese maple.’
    • ‘And prune plants to the ground after the first frost, even if foliage is not damaged.’
    • ‘As a general rule, prune when a tree is naturally under the least amount of stress, usually before the main growing season.’
    • ‘It is illegal to clear development sites, carry out roofing work, treat timber or prune hedges or trees if nests are present.’
    • ‘For example, prune shrubs once a year after flowering for maximum effect.’
    • ‘For early blooming shrubs such as forsythia and viburnum, prune them as soon as blooms have passed.’
    • ‘Also prune to shape overgrown hedges and spring-flowering vines and shrubs after they bloom.’
    • ‘The best time to prune is just after flowering has ended.’
    • ‘Do not prune either streptosolen or fuchsia, for they bloom in winter on growth started in early fall.’
    • ‘Lightly prune young magnolias after they flower to encourage a pyramidal shape.’
    • ‘Pinch back or tip prune to encourage branches as well as shorten long streamers later in the growing season.’
    cut back, trim, thin, thin out, pinch back, crop, clip, shear, pollard, top, dock
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Cut away (a branch or stem) from a tree, shrub, etc.
      ‘prune back the branches’
      • ‘You may also need to prune back live branches that are getting out of control.’
      • ‘More compact plants result when long branches are pruned back to their junction at a lateral branch during early spring.’
      • ‘But if you prune back hard or after the tree leafs out in spring, it may be slower to come into bloom that year.’
      • ‘This tree can still be saved, but there will be a large scar on the stem when the upright branches are pruned off.’
      • ‘In winter, prune back laterals that are produced to within 24 inches of the main canes.’
      • ‘If your plant is healthy, you can prune back to a foot or two with no ill effects.’
      • ‘The remaining branches can be pruned hard back in early spring when the new shoots begin to show.’
      • ‘Should I prune back the bare top branches to stimulate growth?’
      • ‘Better to train it against a wall, tying the main stems to wires and pruning back all side branches to within two buds of the main framework each summer.’
      • ‘Infected branches must be pruned out early and destroyed if the tree is to be saved.’
      • ‘Time to prune back your large, late-flowering hybrid clematis plants.’
      • ‘The willows overhanging it discard huge branches which should have been pruned back years ago.’
      • ‘Plants such as fucshias should be pruned back fairly hard now or at least before new side shoots become established.’
      • ‘When planting a bare-root tree, prune away enough branches to balance the top with roots lost when the tree was dug.’
      • ‘To redirect growth, prune back to a side branch that is growing in a more desirable direction.’
      • ‘Later, if you wish to do a little shaping, prune back to a growth bud pointing in the direction you want a stem to grow.’
      • ‘After flowering, prune branches back hard, to the edge of the container or basket, to shape.’
      • ‘Remove old, weak branches at ground level, and prune out any dying shoots or branches that are taking off in awkward directions.’
      • ‘Feed the camellia with a multi-purpose fertiliser with balanced NPK and prune out any weak growth or dead branches, leaving only the strongest.’
      • ‘And today, Coun Kate Hollern, who heads Blackburn with Darwen Council, pledged to ensure staff prune back trees in parks and other authority-owned public spaces.’
      cut off, lop, lop off, chop off, hack off, clip, snip, snip off, nip off, dock, sever, detach, remove
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Reduce the extent of (something) by removing superfluous or unwanted parts.
      ‘the workforce was pruned’
      • ‘So unless top-line targets are met, the cost base is pruned to compensate.’
      • ‘Acting quickly, Bern closed underperforming stores, pruned the work force, expanded product lines and revised the merchandising strategy.’
      • ‘The coalition will be working very hard over the next few months to prune expenditure to bring down this tax rise. The process has already started.’
      • ‘It should be hoped that the decision on pruning the ministry will not be delayed further and a bill in this regard will be brought forward during the forthcoming session of the legislature.’
      • ‘With the emphasis now being placed on attracting younger players, the need for reserve football is becoming a thing of the past and clubs are pruning their playing staff accordingly.’
      • ‘Every day he works on it a little more, pruning the chapters, getting the facts straight, tightening the prose.’
      reduce, cut, cut back, cut down, cut back on, pare, pare down, slim down, make reductions in, make cutbacks in, trim, whittle away, whittle down, salami-slice, decrease, diminish, axe, shrink, minimize
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Remove (superfluous or unwanted parts) from something.
      ‘Eliot deliberately pruned away details’
      • ‘And several bright ideas scattered here and there that never quite worked have been pruned away.’
      • ‘Costs were cut, younger managers encouraged and deadwood pruned away with early retirement.’

noun

in singular
  • An instance of trimming a tree, shrub, or bush.

    ‘they need little care other than an annual prune’
    • ‘As the weather starts to warm and spring is just around the corner, roses, and shrubs may need a prune.’
    • ‘Unless he can find someone to lease them very soon he will give the trees a minimal prune and basic spray programme to grow apples for processing next season.’
    • ‘These are usually the more delicate plants such as Clematis viticella, which are best with an annual light prune followed by hard pruning every ten years.’
    • ‘They prefer sun or semi shade and a good annual prune to keep them compact and bushy.’
    • ‘If you haven't pruned give it a prune, and remove foliage but not new buds.’

Origin

Late 15th century (in the sense ‘abbreviate’): from Old French pro(o)ignier, possibly based on Latin rotundus ‘round’.

Pronunciation

prune

/pruːn/