popular name of a type of evergreen tree noted for its dense, dark foliage and durable, fragrant wood, native to southern Europe and sacred to Pluto, late 12c., from Old French cipres (12c., Modern French cyprès), from Late Latin cypressus, from Latin cupressus, from Greek kyparissos, probably from an unknown pre-Greek Mediterranean language.
Perhaps it is related to Hebrew gopher, name of the tree whose wood was used to make the ark (Genesis vi.14). Extended to similar trees of America, Australia, and Japan. An emblem of mourning for the dead, cypress branches were used at funeral.
updated on June 15, 2018