Originally: a pear tree. Later: (in form Pyrus) a genus of small fruit trees and shrubs of the family Rosaceae, now restricted to those with grit or stone cells in the fruit, including the common pear, Pyrus communis, and related ornamental kinds; also (in form pyrus) a tree or shrub of this genus or formerly included in it.
The genus formerly also included many trees and shrubs now placed in other genera, as apples (genus Malus), rowans, whitebeams, and service trees (genus Sorbus), and quinces (genus Cydonia).
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in John Maplet (d. 1592), writer on natural philosophy. From post-classical Latin pyrus, later adopted in scientific Latin as genus name Pyrus.