1. any tree of the genus Fagus, of temperate regions, having a smooth gray bark and bearing small, edible, triangular nuts.
  2. Also called beechwood. the wood of such a tree.
  3. any member of the plant family Fagaceae, characterized by trees and shrubs having alternate, usually toothed or lobed leaves, male flowers in catkins and female flowers either solitary or in clusters and bearing a nut enclosed in a cupule or bur, including the beeches, chestnuts, and oaks.

Origin of beech

before 900; Middle English beche, Old English bēce < Germanic *bōkjōn-; akin to Old Saxon, Middle Low German boke, Dutch beuk, Old High German buohha (German Buche), Old Norse bōk, Latin fāgus beech, Doric Greek phāgós, Albanian bung oak (apparently not akin to book)
Related formsbeech·en, adjectivebeech·y, adjective
Can be confusedbeach beech Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for beechen

Historical Examples of beechen

  • The essence of clover and grass and dandelions and beechen woods is here.

  • The red-bird flutters lower down in the coppice of green pawpaws, or amidst the amber leaflets of the beechen thicket.

  • Diomede obeyed, and the beechen axle groaned beneath the weight of the hero and the goddess.

  • Beechen bowls, curiously carved, were highly prized by the ancient shepherds.

    Woodland Gleanings

    Charles Tilt

  • He windeth a wreath of the beechen tree, Lest men her shining shoulders see.

    Poems by the Way

    William Morris

British Dictionary definitions for beechen


  1. any N temperate tree of the genus Fagus, esp F. sylvatica of Europe, having smooth greyish bark: family Fagaceae
  2. any tree of the related genus Nothofagus, of temperate Australasia and South America
  3. the hard wood of any of these trees, used in making furniture, etc
  4. See copper beech
Derived Formsbeechen or beechy, adjective

Word Origin for beech

Old English bēce; related to Old Norse bók, Old High German buohha, Middle Dutch boeke, Latin fāgus beech, Greek phēgos edible oak
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

Word Origin and History for beechen



Old English bece "beech," from Proto-Germanic *bokjon (cf. Old Norse bok, Dutch beuk, Flemish boek, Old High German buohha, German Buche, Middle Dutch boeke "beech"), from PIE root *bhagos "beech tree" (cf. Greek phegos "oak," Latin fagus "beech," Russian buzina "elder"), perhaps with a ground sense of "edible" (and connected with the root of Greek phagein "to eat;" see -phagous). Beech mast was an ancient food source for agricultural animals across a wide stretch of Europe. Formerly with adjectival form beechen. Also see book.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper