Olive Branch – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you tried to make peace with someone you previously fought with? Maybe there is someone you don’t quite like that has been making efforts at being cordial. If so, the term extending an olive branch is an apt description for said behaviors. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


An olive branch is meant to be a symbol or gesture of peace. It can also be used as an offer of a truce or even for a reconciliation. Extending an olive branch is a phrase that also means that you are offering goodwill to the recipient. This can be towards a long-term enemy or even just someone who holds opposing views.

Saying that you want to offer an olive branch is also a way to end a conflict or argument with someone. Of course, it can also mean exactly what it is, a branch from an olive tree! It is also an easy way to offer to resolve a conflict or instruct someone to mend their differences.

Example Usage

“I think you should give him a chance to redeem himself, he has offered you an olive branch”.

“What is the point of carrying on with your enmity when there is an olive branch of peace ready for the taking?”

“Consider extending an olive branch if you really want to grow as a person and move beyond your differences”.

“The people of Ukraine will always be willing to extend an olive branch to the people of Russia if they stop following their war-mongering leader”.


The use of an olive branch as a symbol of peace has been around for ages. It has been found in the book of Genesis in the bible specifically when a dove carried the branch of peace. Upon further research, the olive branch being used for peace can be traced back to ancient Greek culture. It is also found in ancient Roman culture. The original assumption is that Noah sent a dove following the mythical great floods to find land. That dove eventually returned carrying with it an olive leaf.

People took this as a sign that the war against mankind was at an end, and this became a sign of peace. Olive trees take a long time to mature, as a result, these slow-growing trees are considered peacetime trees. Olive trees are never cultivated during a time of war due to their slow growth and need for steady cultivation. The origin of the phrase can the traced back to 1275 ME, and can be found in the text as early as the 14th century.

Phrases Similar to Olive Branch

  • Make peace
  • Call a true
  • Find common ground
  • Make up
  • Peace offering
  • Token of peace

Phrases Opposite to Olive Branch

  • Call to war
  • Agitate
  • Incite
  • Aggravate

What is the Correct Saying?

  • The proper saying is to extend an olive branch of peace.

Ways People May Incorrectly Say Olive Branch

Some ways that Olive Branch is misused are:

  • Try taking an olive branch to fix your problems next time.
  • The conflict all started when the opposition sent over an olive branch of war.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Olive Branch

Some ways that Olive Branch is used correctly are:

  • That was a great suggestion for a party, I think that was your way of extending an olive branch to the other team.
  • Speaking negatively about someone and then extending an olive branch doesn’t erase the hurt.
  • The offer the university sent over was an olive branch following their unjust action regarding my tenure ship denial.
  • After listening to the whole speech, I finally realized that Israel has no plans of offering an olive branch to the Palestinians.

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