General English


  • noun a large tropical plant like a tree with branching divided leaves, that produces fruits which give oil and other foodstuffs
  • noun the inner surface of the hand or the underside of a mammal’s forefoot that is often in contact with the ground


  • (written as Palm)
    A popular PDA.


  • Any member of an important family of plants, Palmae, of which there are over 4,000 species, generally tropical or subtropical and mostly trees with the characteristic tuft of fan-like leaves, although a few are climbers, e.g. the rattan palm. They supply edible vegetable matter, fruit, nuts, oil and sap as well as building materials.


  • noun the inner surface of the hand, extending from the bases of the fingers to the wrist

Origin & History of “palm”

Palm the tree (OE) and the palm of the hand (14th c.) are effectively distinct words in English, but they have the same ultimate source: Latin palma. this originally meant ‘palm of the hand’ (it is related to Irish lám ‘hand’ and Welsh llaw ‘hand’), and the application to the tree is a secondary one, alluding to the shape of the cluster of palm leaves, like the fingers of a hand. The Latin word was borrowed into the Germanic dialects in prehistoric times in the tree sense, and is now widespread (German palme and Dutch and Swedish palm as well as English palm). English acquired it in the ‘hand’ sense via Old French paume, with subsequent reversion to the Latin spelling.

The French diminutive palmette denotes a stylized palm leaf used as a decorative device, particularly on cornices. It was borrowed into English in the mid-19th century, and is thought to have formed the basis of English pelmet (20th c.).