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Perennial:(of plants) continuing to live from year to year

Would you kindly explain this part: from year to year?

  • Your citation is really more of a literal usage - many plants live and die within a single year, so the definition is just pointing out that the distinguishing feature of perennials is they live on past the first year into the second (and perhaps third or more). But there's also the (perhaps more common) version from day to day, which usually has either the specific idiomatic sense of taking things one day at a time (not making plans for next week, next month, next year, etc.), or the more general sense of continuously (through days, weeks, months...). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 17 '14 at 16:52
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That the plant lives from year to year means that it does not die after one year — or, more accurately, one growing season.

In fact, the explanation for perennial from Wikipedia makes this more clear:

A perennial plant or simply perennial (from Latin per, meaning "through", and annus, meaning "year") is a plant that lives for more than two years

As you can see, the dictionary definition isn't even entirely correct, as the plant indeed has to live for more than two years to be considered perennial.

  • You say "it does not die after one year". I'm only a casual gardener but I think one does say a perennial dies every year but is reborn from its roots. As opposed to annuals who don't get reborn unless seeds are planted. Anyway, nothing to do with OP's question. But yes perennials are plants that live for two or more years, as the tag of that name says on gardening.se. – Laure Jan 17 '14 at 16:50
  • I think that Wikipedia article overstates the case. In most contexts it's true gardeners, etc., think in terms of annuals, biennials, and perennials. But overall it's not unreasonable to say biennials are a subcategory within perennials. There's nothing in the relevant OED definition, for example, that says anything about "more than two years". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 17 '14 at 17:03
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from year to year

I believe this phrase is a shortened way of saying: From one year to another year.

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