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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, branch (see synonym study at branch) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for boughs
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was in the early summer, and the foliage was green above him as the boughs swayed gently to and fro in the morning breeze.

    Tales of Fantasy and Fact Brander Matthews
  • About two hundred of the French were concealed in the mass of boughs, and fired at us.

    Ben Comee M. J. (Michael Joseph) Canavan
  • In a word, Gothic vaulting and tracery have been studiously made like to boughs of trees.

    Health and Education Charles Kingsley
  • Then we pushed into the mass of boughs and drove the French back into their breastwork.

    Ben Comee M. J. (Michael Joseph) Canavan
  • I stooped to avoid the boughs under which my horse carried me.

    With Axe and Rifle W.H.G. Kingston
  • He cut some boughs of hemlock, growing near us, and spread them in a little hollow.

    Eben Holden Irving Bacheller
  • Here they took some rest, and ate of the fruit that hung from the boughs round them.

  • They made a stretcher of boughs and carried me for some miles to their kraal inland.

    Benita, An African Romance H. Rider Haggard
  • When the tree was finished, and the church had been decked with boughs and holly, they all went home for a well-merited rest.

    Phyllis Dorothy Whitehill
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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