[bee-zuh m]
See more synonyms for besom on

Origin of besom

before 1000; Middle English besem, Old English bes(e)ma; cognate with Dutch bezem, German Besen Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for besom

mop, broom, toothbrush, whisk, swab, sweeper, besom, polisher, hairbrush, waxer

Examples from the Web for besom

Historical Examples of besom

  • The young man has been a besom of fire and burnt up everything.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • "Don't be trying to knock me down with your tex'es," said Thomas, shouldering his besom.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • They've tongues as long as a besom's teal, and fingers as long to poke after 'em.

  • "Let a' trades live," quo' the wife when she burnt her besom.

    The Proverbs of Scotland

    Alexander Hislop

  • We two will pull the state in pieces, and sweep away the laws as with a besom.

British Dictionary definitions for besom


  1. a broom, esp one made of a bundle of twigs tied to a handle
  2. curling a broom or brush used to sweep the ice in front of the stone to make it slide farther
verb (tr)
  1. to sweep with a besom

Word Origin for besom

Old English besma; related to Old High German besmo broom


  1. Scot and Northern English dialect a derogatory term for a woman

Word Origin for besom

perhaps from Old English bysen example; related to Old Norse bysn wonder
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 besom

Old English besma "bundle of twigs" (used as a broom or a flail), from West Germanic *besmon (cf. Old Frisian besma, Old Saxon besmo, Old High German besmo, German Besen, Dutch bezem), of unknown origin. Perhaps "something bound or twisted," from PIE *bheidh-.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper