• WordNet 3.6
    • n banian a loose fitting jacket; originally worn in India
    • n banian East Indian tree that puts out aerial shoots that grow down into the soil forming additional trunks
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Banian A Hindu trader, merchant, cashier, or money changer.
    • Banian A man's loose gown, like that worn by the Banians.
    • Banian (Bot) The Indian fig. See Banyan.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n banian A Hindu trader or merchant, especially of the province of Guzerat; one engaged in commerce generally, but more particularly one of the great traders of western India, as in the seaports of Bombay, Kurrachee, etc., who carry on a large trade with the interior of Asia by means of caravans, and with Africa by vessels. They form a class of the caste Vaisya, wear a peculiar dress, and are strict in the observance of fasts and in abstaining from the use of flesh.
    • n banian In British India, originally, a cotton shirt worn by the Hindus. Hence— Any undergarment, even of the elastic web made in England.
    • n banian Any loose or easy dress worn in the house, especially one modeled on the native dress of the Hindus.
    • n banian An East Indian fig-tree, Ficus Bengalensis, natural order Urticaceæ, remarkable for the area which individual trees cover through the development of roots from the branches, which descend to the ground and become trunks for the support and nourishment of the extending crown. It is extensively planted throughout India as a shade-tree, and is of rapid growth, frequently covering a space 100 yards in diameter and reaching a height of 80 or 100 feet. The fruit is of the size of a cherry. As in some other tropical species of the genus, the seeds rarely germinate in the ground, but usually in the crowns of palms or other trees, where they have been deposited by birds. Roots are sent down to the ground, and they embrace and finally kill the nurse-palm. The tree furnishes lac, the bark is made into cordage, the milky juice yields a bird-lime, and the leaves are fashioned into platters. The wood is soft and of little value.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Banian ban′yan an Indian tree of the fig family, remarkable for its vast rooting branches: a Hindu trader, esp. from Guzerat, sometimes loosely applied to all Hindus in Western Asia: a loose flannel jacket or gown worn in India
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Skr. banij, merchant. The tree was so named by the English, because used as a market place by the merchants
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Port. banian, perh. through Ar. banyān, from Hind. banya—Sans. vanij, a merchant.


In literature:

Gunga Govind Sing, another banian of his, and one of his own domestic servants.
"The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. XII. (of XII.)" by Edmund Burke
Look at the great Turk, he governs Guebres, Banians, Greek Christians, Nestorians, Romans.
"Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary" by Voltaire
These I placed in the banian's hand, and I waited, with all proper patience, while he carefully examined them.
"Tales of Destiny" by Edmund Mitchell
She was only a trading dhow with a lot of Banians taking goods from the mainland to the islands; and so we had had all our chase for nothing.
"The Penang Pirate" by John Conroy Hutcheson
I'm afraid it's a Banian day, and Molly will not have anything nice for you.
"Bob Strong's Holidays" by John Conroy Hutcheson
The fawn stopped near a gigantic banian-tree.
"The Adventures of Piang the Moro Jungle Boy" by Florence Partello Stuart
"The Sailor's Word-Book" by William Henry Smyth
A Malay looked up sleepily, and pointed toward the wide-spreading banian.
"Tales of the Malayan Coast" by Rounsevelle Wildman
One of a shooting party had killed a female monkey in a banian tree, and carried it to his tent.
"Man And His Ancestor" by Charles Morris
The trees were mostly banians, peepuls and mangoes, and there were many large fields of rice and corn.
"Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 15, No. 89, May, 1875" by Various