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[bou] /baʊ/
a branch of a tree, especially one of the larger or main branches.
Origin of bough
before 1000; Middle English bogh, Old English bōg, bōh shoulder, bough; cognate with Old Norse bōgr, Dutch boeg, German Bug, Greek pêchys, Sanskrit bāhu
Related forms
boughless, adjective
underbough, noun
Can be confused
bough, bow.
Synonym Study
See branch. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bough
Historical Examples
  • So he took a bough of fir, thick-set with little twigs, and tied the kill on that.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • Nay, he would not be butchered like a bird on a bough, he would fall fighting.

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
  • Did you see those two birds fly away from that bough, sudden-like?

    The Rock of Chickamauga Joseph A. Altsheler
  • The seventh of these hath a bough which shoots over the boundary wall.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
  • They bent down the bough and picked it, and then allowed it to fly up again.

  • That bough there tires me with its waving and its rising, as if it was alive.

  • And from tree to tree, and from bough to bough, vine branches hung in confusion.

  • It appeared that “Flintergill” had been sawing off the bough on which he was standing.

    Adventures and Recollections Bill o'th' Hoylus End
  • It matters not much what part of the bough the twig growes out of.

    A New Orchard And Garden William Lawson
  • A small branch will become a bough, and a bough an arme in bignesse.

    A New Orchard And Garden William Lawson
British Dictionary definitions for bough


any of the main branches of a tree
Word Origin
Old English bōg arm, twig; related to Old Norse bōgr shoulder, ship's bow, Old High German buog shoulder, Greek pēkhus forearm, Sanskrit bāhu; see bow³, elbow
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 bough

Old English bog "shoulder, arm," extended in Old English to "twig, branch" (cf. limb (n.1)), from Proto-Germanic *bogaz (cf. Old Norse bogr "shoulder," Old High German buog, German Bug "shoulder, hock, joint"), from PIE *bhagus "elbow, forearm" (cf. Sanskrit bahus "arm," Armenian bazuk, Greek pakhys "forearm"). The "limb of a tree" sense is peculiar to English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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