• pollard •
pah-lêrd • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A tree that has its branches periodically cut back to the trunk so that the new shoots in the spring make it look like a lollipop. 2. A horned animal without its horns, whether by molting or removal for human purposes. 3. (Australian) Bran sifted from flour or flour mixed with bran.
Notes: Today's word identifies trees whose tops have been pruned back to the trunk or the ends of major branches. Since new growth comes out from tree trunks at a consistent pace and for a specific time, the result in the spring is a tree with a perfectly circular crown. Trees do not grow that way naturally; they must be pollarded or simply polled.
In Play: Today's Good Word is mostly attributed to trees in Europe. Since in the US pollarding is rare, when US tourists see this phenomenon in Europe, most don't know what it's called: "All the maples in Perry Winkle's garden are pollards, so that in the fall they will look like giant lollipops in a huge candy store."
Word History: So, what do pollards have to do with tadpoles? Tad is a dialectal variant of toad, missing its O. Pole is a variant of an old word, poll "head", borrowed from Dutch pol "tuft", but which meant at the time English borrowed it "crown of the head or tree". It is also the origin of an English word for a head count (a poll), and the poll in poll tax, which originally meant "head tax". Poll entered English as a verb, so to remove the horns or branches was known as polling. Pollard (poll-ard) follows naturally from this sense of the verb poll.
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