Any of several deciduous Asian trees of the genus Ailanthus, especially the tree of heaven.
[New Latin Ailanthus, genus name coined (perhaps with influence from Greek anthos, flower) by French botanist René Louiche Desfontaines (1750-1833) from a source in one of the Malayo-Polynesian languages of the coast and islands of Piru Bay, Seram, such as ai lanit, (term used on the south Seram coast), literally "sky tree," the tall tropical Asian tree tree Ailanthus integrifolia : ai, tree (from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *kahiw; see CAJEPUT) + lanit, sky (akin to Malay langit, from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *laŋit, of Proto-Austronesian origin).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.