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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for boughs
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We heard the swish of the boughs, heavy with new snow, and then silence.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • I tried to shake off the feeling of desolation as I went to my bed of boughs.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • Just beneath at the first forking of the boughs a candle burned.

    Bride of the Mistletoe James Lane Allen
  • Other boughs sagged under the weight of silvery cornucopias.

    Bride of the Mistletoe James Lane Allen
  • How steady it was as it moved among the boughs, extinguishing the lights.

    Bride of the Mistletoe James Lane Allen
  • Breaking his way in among the boughs he searched more carefully.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • They heard only a crashing of boughs, the parting of the hedge.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • Burned, where all summer long the boughs of asparagus flourished.

    Poems William D. Howells
  • And in the boughs of the sycamores quarrelled and clamored the blackbirds.

    Poems William D. Howells
British Dictionary definitions for boughs


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 boughs



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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