From Latin arborēscēns, present active participle of arborēscō (become a tree). First attested around 1675. The philosophical sense refers to the way genealogy trees are drawn.



arborescent (comparative more arborescent, superlative most arborescent)

  1. Like a tree; having a structure or appearance similar to that of a tree; branching.
    • 1825 October, “Antediluvian Phytology, illustrated by a collection of the Fossil Remains of Plants peculiar to the Coal Formations of Great Britain. By Edmund Tyrell Artis, F.S.A. & G.S. London, 1825. 4to. Introduction xii. p.: pp. 24: plates 24.”, in Richard Taylor, editor, The Philosophical Magazine and Journal: Comprehending the Various Branches of Science, the Liberal and Fine Arts, Agriculture, Manufactures, and Commerce, volume LXVI, number 330, London: Printed by Richard Taylor, Shoe-Lane [...], OCLC 1641414, page 297:
      Hydatica. Stem arborescent, jointed, branched; leaves long, linear.
    • 1986 January, David Gabai, “Genera of the Arborescent Links”, in Memoirs of the American Mathematical Society, volume 59, number 339, Providence, R.I.: American Mathematical Society, →ISBN, ISSN 0065-9266, page vii:
      In §1 we review the definition of the arborescent links and discuss a convention to inductively analyze these links. We also recall some facts about foliations. In §2 we show how to represent an oriented arborescent link L by a special type of tree called a candidate tree.
    • 1991, Charles S[prague] Sargent, Report on the Forests of North America (exclusive of Mexico), volume 9, number 32, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, →ISBN, page 14:
      Robinia, with its center of distribution in the southern Alleghany region, is represented by two arborescent and one frutescent species in the Atlantic and by one arborescent species in the Pacific region.
    • 2004, V[alentin] Poénaru; C. Tanasi, “Equivariant, Almost-arborescent Representations of Open Simply-connected 3-manifolds: A Finiteness Result”, in Memoirs of the American Mathematical Society, volume 169, number 800, American Mathematical Society, →ISBN, ISSN 0065-9266, page 4:
      We will say that the simplicial complex X is arborescent if we can obtain it by a sequence of Whitehead dilations starting from a point. This sequence can be non-locally finite. Also "arborescent" does not imply "collapsible" (R2 for instance is arborescent). We will say that a 2-dimensional simplicial context X is almost arborescent if it can be obtained by a series of Whitehead dilations and of additions of 2-cells along their boundaries, starting from a point.
  2. (philosophy) Marked by insistence on totalizing principles, binarism and dualism (as opposed to the rhizome theory).
    Gilles Deleuze criticizes the Chomsky hierarchy of formal languages, which he considers a perfect example of arborescent dualistic theory.
    • 2000, Carl Olson, Zen and the Art of Postmodern Philosophy: Two Paths of Liberation from the Representational Mode of Thinking, Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, →ISBN, page 193:
      Deleuze and Guattari think, for instance, that metaphysics is an example of arborescent thinking, which is a model of thought like an erect tree, because it has been shaped by arboreal metaphors from the moment of its origin. They explain, "Arborescent systems are hierarchical systems with centers of significance (sic) and subjectification, central automata like organized memories. In the corresponding models, an element only receives information from a higher unit, and only receives a subjective affection along preestablished paths."
    • 2012, Karen R. Foster; Dale C. Spencer, Reimagining Intervention in Young Lives: Work, Social Assistance, and Marginalization, Vancouver, B.C.: University of British Columbia Press, →ISBN, page 19:
      One [metaphor] in particular – the "arborescent schema" – emerges as perhaps the most long-held, dominant approach and way of thinking in such areas as philosophy, psychoanalysis, social criticism, and everyday life. It is, in plain, a tree-like representation of the world, which gathers concepts and images that encourage our minds to think of the world in terms of trees and their component parts. [] Deleuze and Guattari draw attention to the arborescent schemas in philosophy and other areas and show how these foundational ideas are rarely challenged, even though they limit the manoeuvrability of thought and violently organize all subsequent lines of inquiry. [] The problem with arborescent thinking is that thoughts must begin from the trunk, and refer back to it; they cannot pop up elsewhere.
    • 2012, B[radley] H[udson] McLean, Biblical Interpretation and Philosophical Hermeneutics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 268:
      René Descartes once likened the structure of philosophy to a tree: [] Building on Descartes' insight, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari have argued that Western humanist tradition in general is modeled on a treelike structure, or what they term an "arborescent" structure. A tree organizes its parts according to a principle that arises out of its own interiority and self-sufficiency: it germinates from a solitary seed or acorn and shoots forth what will become its trunk. Its whole canopy of branches above is integrated downwards into this trunk, and all of its roots below are similarly integrated upward into the same trunk. Considered as a model of Western knowledge, the trunk of this arborescent structure represents human rationality. Rationality is the highest value in an arborescent structure because it is rationality that organizes and integrates all forms of knowledge into a unified, coherent system, []

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Further readingEdit



From Latin aborēscēns, present active participle of arborēscō (become a tree).


arborescent (feminine singular arborescente, masculine plural arborescents, feminine plural arborescentes)

  1. arborescent

Related termsEdit

Further readingEdit




  1. third-person plural future active indicative of arborēscō