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[bee-zuh m] /ˈbi zəm/
a broom, especially one of brush or twigs.
broom (def 2).
Origin of besom
before 1000; Middle English besem, Old English bes(e)ma; cognate with Dutch bezem, German Besen Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for besom
Historical Examples
  • "Don't be trying to knock me down with your tex'es," said Thomas, shouldering his besom.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • The young man has been a besom of fire and burnt up everything.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • They've tongues as long as a besom's teal, and fingers as long to poke after 'em.

  • "Let a' trades live," quo' the wife when she burnt her besom.

    The Proverbs of Scotland Alexander Hislop
  • We two will pull the state in pieces, and sweep away the laws as with a besom.

  • Gilmour dropped the besom and hit him a sounding thwack on the ear.

    The House with the Green Shutters

    George Douglas Brown
  • The besom and shovel and wheelbarrow are the only proper tools for doing this.

    The Dwelling House George Vivian Poore
  • I would I had them here, I would trounce them with my besom handle.

    Wulnoth the Wanderer Herbert Escott-Inman
  • You only require a besom and a purse, and a block of warehouses.

    The Confessions of a Collector William Carew Hazlitt
  • Its teeming population has been swept away by the besom of Jehovahs wrath.

    Bible Emblems Edward E. Seelye
British Dictionary definitions for besom


a broom, esp one made of a bundle of twigs tied to a handle
(curling) a broom or brush used to sweep the ice in front of the stone to make it slide farther
verb (transitive)
to sweep with a besom
Word Origin
Old English besma; related to Old High German besmo broom


/ˈbɪzəm; ˈbizəm/
(Scot & Northern English, dialect) a derogatory term for a woman
Word Origin
perhaps from Old English bysen example; related to Old Norse bysn wonder
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for besom

Old English besma "bundle of twigs" (used as a broom or a flail), from West Germanic *besmon (cf. Old Frisian besma, Old Saxon besmo, Old High German besmo, German Besen, Dutch bezem), of unknown origin. Perhaps "something bound or twisted," from PIE *bheidh-.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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