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Definitions of biodiversity from urban gardenersLiving in urban environments can leave people disconnected from nature and less likely to engage with biodiversity conservation. Within urban areas, residential gardens can occupy large proportions of greenspace and provide important habitat for biodiversity. Understanding the views and knowledge of garden owners who have collective responsibility for managing these areas is therefore important. We aimed to understand how urban garden owners understand biodiversity. We surveyed garden owners in Derby, UK, across 20 areas spanning a socioeconomic spectrum. Residents were asked to explain their understanding of ‘biodiversity’ in a short definition format. Responses were classified using thematic and word frequency analyses. Of 255 respondents, approximately one third were unable to provide a definition. From the definitions provided, themes that emerged in frequency order were: variety of species or environments; coexistence of organisms; conservation of nature; a synonym for habitat; and uncommon answers not clearly related to biodiversity. Members of wildlife or gardening charities were more likely than non-members to say they could define biodiversity and to use specific taxonomic terms. We detected no difference between keen and less keen gardeners. These short-form responses captured many themes longer and/or qualitative assessments have identified about people’s understanding of biodiversity and illustrate a diversity and, in some cases, a depth of understanding of the concepts of biodiversity, without necessarily adhering to the formal definition. Given the variety of understanding, at this critical period, technical terms, even common ones, should be used with caution and with an open mind about how people interpret them.