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90s Slang You Should Know


[wil-oh] /ˈwɪl oʊ/
any tree or shrub of the genus Salix, characterized by narrow, lance-shaped leaves and dense catkins bearing small flowers, many species having tough, pliable twigs or branches used for wickerwork, etc.
Compare willow family.
the wood of any of these trees.
Informal. something, especially a cricket bat, made of willow wood.
Also called willower, willy. a machine consisting essentially of a cylinder armed with spikes revolving within a spiked casing, for opening and cleaning cotton or other fiber.
verb (used with object)
to treat (textile fibers) with a willow.
Origin of willow
before 900; Middle English wilwe, variant of wilghe, Old English welig; cognate with Old Saxon wilgia, Dutch wilg, Low German wilge
Related forms
willowlike, adjective
willowish, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for willows
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In some places the willows were killed by having been buried in the blown sand.

    Across Iceland William Bisiker
  • All the willows along the banks were stripped of their leaves.

    Life On The Mississippi, Complete Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • All human things are much alike when they love—the brown girls in the willows also.

    For the Soul of Rafael Marah Ellis Ryan
  • A robin twittered in the willows; a leaf fell on her bare ankle.

    Beyond John Galsworthy
  • Stella found them everywhere, in lonely copses, in high-shouldered lanes, or growing like pale sunshine underneath the willows.

    The Second Fiddle Phyllis Bottome
  • At the bottom of the field was a little pond overhung with willows.

    The Country House John Galsworthy
  • A society brings in willows and a hundred-willow sweathouse is built.

  • She hid them in the willows, and went into the house to stir the contents of the tin cup.

    'Me-Smith' Caroline Lockhart
  • The willows grew quickly, and already made a beautiful place for playing hide and seek.

    Ditte: Girl Alive! Martin Andersen Nexo
British Dictionary definitions for willows


any of numerous salicaceous trees and shrubs of the genus Salix, such as the weeping willow and osiers of N temperate regions, which have graceful flexible branches, flowers in catkins, and feathery seeds
the whitish wood of certain of these trees
something made of willow wood, such as a cricket or baseball bat
a machine having a system of revolving spikes for opening and cleaning raw textile fibres
Derived Forms
willowish, willow-like, adjective
Word Origin
Old English welig; related to wilige wicker basket, Old Saxon wilgia, Middle High German wilge, Greek helikē willow, helix twisted


a small town in S Alaska, about 113 km (70 miles) northwest of Anchorage: chosen as the site of the projected new state capital in 1976, a plan which never came to fruition. Pop: 1658 (2000)
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 willows



Old English welig, from Proto-Germanic *walg- (cf. Old Saxon wilgia, Middle Dutch wilghe, Dutch wilg), probably from PIE *wel- "to turn, roll," with derivatives referring to curved, enclosing objects. The change in form to -ow (14c.) paralleled that of bellow and fellow. The more typical Germanic word for the tree is represented by withy.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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