AskDefine | Define sylvan

Dictionary Definition

sylvan adj : relating to or characteristic of wooded regions; "a shady sylvan glade" [syn: silvan] n : a spirit that lives in or frequents the woods [syn: silvan]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


From Medieval Latin sylvanus, from Latin Silvanus, god of the woods, from silva, forest.


  • /ˈsɪlvən/
  • /"sIlv@n/


  1. pertaining to the forest, or woodlands
  2. wooded, or covered in forest


  1. One that resides in the woods.


See also

Extensive Definition

Sylvan or Silvan refers to an association with the woods. Specifically, that which inhabits the wood, is made of tree materials, or comprises the forest itself. The term can also refer to a person who resides in the woods or a spirit of the wood. In mythology, the term also refers to deities or spirits of the woods.
The term in English is from the Latin sylvus or silvus meaning "forest, woods." This root is found in place names in the U.S.A. like Pennsylvania (lit. "Penn's woods") and Spotsylvania. The first names Sylvester and Sylva(i)n are also from the Latin word.

Textual examples

In the Chronicles of Narnia, silvans are tree spirits, appearing primarily in the second book of the series, Prince Caspian.
In the book, the following exchange occurs:
"Huge people - beautiful people - like gods and goddesses and giants. Hundreds and thousands of them, closing in behind us. What are they?"
"It's the Dryads and Hamadryads and Silvans," said Trufflehunter. "Aslan has waked them."
In the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game, Sylvan is the language of all magical creatures associated with the wilderness, such as fairies, dryads, centaurs and such.
In the computer game Heroes of Might and Magic V,'' Sylvan is a playable faction, featuring the Elves and other mythical forest creatures such as Sprites, Unicorns, Treants and Dragons.
In the TCG "Magic: The Gathering," the term sylvan appears on a number of cards.
John Keats calls the subject of his famous poem "Ode to a Grecian Urn" a Sylvan historian.


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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