Urban forestry is generally defined as the art, science and technology of managing trees and forest resources in and around urban community ecosystems for the physiological, sociological, economic, and aesthetic benefits trees provide society. First mentioned in the United States as early as in 1894, the concept underwent a revival during the 1960s as a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to the specific challenges related to growing trees in urban environments. Later, urban forestry evoked the interest of scientists and practitioners in other parts of the world. However, harmonization of urban forestry terminology has been complicated by, for example, the involvement of different disciplines and translation difficulties. In many European languages, for example, the direct translation of ‘urban forestry’ relates more to forest ecosystems than to street and park trees. Efforts in North America and Europe defining ‘urban forest’, ‘urban forestry’ and related terms are introduced. A comparative analysis of selected urban forestry terminology in both parts of the world shows that urban forestry has a longer history in North America, based on traditions of shade tree management. Moreover, urban forestry has become more institutionalized in North America. Urban forestry in Europe has built strongly on a century-long tradition of ‘town forestry’. In both parts of the world, definitions of urban forestry and urban forest have become more comprehensive, including all tree stands and individual trees in and around urban areas. Agreement also exists on the multifunctional and multidisciplinary character of urban forestry. These similarities offer opportunities for international harmonization of terminology.