up a tree

up a tree


  1. a plant having a permanently woody main stem or trunk, ordinarily growing to a considerable height, and usually developing branches at some distance from the ground.
  2. any of various shrubs, bushes, and plants, as the banana, resembling a tree in form and size.
  3. something resembling a tree in shape, as a clothes tree or a crosstree.
  4. Mathematics, Linguistics. tree diagram.
  5. family tree.
  6. a pole, post, beam, bar, handle, or the like, as one forming part of some structure.
  7. a shoetree or boot tree.
  8. a saddletree.
  9. a treelike group of crystals, as one forming in an electrolytic cell.
  10. a gallows or gibbet.
  11. the cross on which Christ was crucified.
  12. Computers. a data structure organized like a tree whose nodes store data elements and whose branches represent pointers to other nodes in the tree.
  13. Christmas tree.

verb (used with object), treed, tree·ing.

  1. to drive into or up a tree, as a pursued animal or person.
  2. Informal. to put into a difficult position.
  3. to stretch or shape on a tree, as a boot.
  4. to furnish (a structure) with a tree.


  1. up a tree, Informal. in a difficult or embarrassing situation; at a loss; stumped.


  1. Sir Herbert Beerbohm . 1853–1917, English actor and theatre manager; half-brother of Sir Max Beerbohm. He was noted for his lavish productions of Shakespeare


  1. any large woody perennial plant with a distinct trunk giving rise to branches or leaves at some distance from the groundRelated adjective: arboreal
  2. any plant that resembles this but has a trunk not made of wood, such as a palm tree
  3. a wooden post, bar, etc
  4. See family tree, shoetree, saddletree
  5. chem a treelike crystal growth; dendrite
    1. a branching diagrammatic representation of something, such as the grammatical structure of a sentence
    2. (as modifier)a tree diagram
  6. an archaic word for gallows
  7. archaic the cross on which Christ was crucified
  8. at the top of the tree in the highest position of a profession, etc
  9. up a tree US and Canadian informal in a difficult situation; trapped or stumped

verb trees, treeing or treed (tr)

  1. to drive or force up a tree
  2. to shape or stretch (a shoe) on a shoetree

n.Old English treo, treow “tree” (also “wood”), from Proto-Germanic *trewan (cf. Old Frisian tre, Old Saxon trio, Old Norse tre, Gothic triu), from PIE *deru- “oak” (cf. Sanskrit dru “tree, wood,” daru “wood, log;” Greek drys “oak,” doru “spear;” Old Church Slavonic drievo “tree, wood;” Serbian drvo “tree,” drva “wood;” Russian drevo “tree, wood;” Czech drva; Polish drwa “wood;” Lithuanian derva “pine wood;” Old Irish daur, Welsh derwen “oak,” Albanian drusk “oak”). Importance of the oak in mythology is reflected in the recurring use of words for “oak” to mean “tree.” In Old English and Middle English, also “thing made of wood,” especially the cross of the Crucifixion and a gallows (cf. Tyburn tree, gallows mentioned 12c. at Tyburn, at junction of Oxford Street and Edgware Road, place of public execution for Middlesex until 1783). Sense in family tree first attested 1706; verb meaning “to chase up a tree” is from 1700. Tree-hugger, contemptuous for “environmentalist” is attested by 1989. Minc’d Pyes do not grow upon every tree,But search the Ovens for them, and there they be.[“Poor Robin,” Almanack, 1669]

  1. Any of a wide variety of perennial plants typically having a single woody stem, and usually branches and leaves. Many species of both gymnosperms (notably the conifers) and angiosperms grow in the form of trees. The ancient forests of the Devonian, Mississippian, and Pennsylvanian periods of the Paleozoic Era were dominated by trees belonging to groups of seedless plants such as the lycophytes. The strength and height of trees are made possible by the supportive conductive tissue known as vascular tissue.

In a difficult situation, as in They found the drugs in his suitcase, so he was up a tree. This expression alludes to an animal, such as a raccoon or squirrel, that climbs a tree for refuge from attackers, which then surround the tree so it cannot come down. [Colloquial; early 1800s] see bark up the wrong tree; can’t see the forest for the trees; talk someone’s arm off (the bark off a tree); up a tree.

50 queries 0.589