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birch

[burch]
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noun
  1. any tree or shrub of the genus Betula, comprising species with a smooth, laminated outer bark and close-grained wood.Compare birch family.
  2. the wood itself.
  3. a birch rod, or a bundle of birch twigs, used especially for whipping.
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adjective
  1. birchen.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to beat or punish with or as if with a birch: The young ruffians were birched soundly by their teacher.
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Origin of birch

before 900; Middle English birche, Old English birce; cognate with Old High German birka (German Birke); akin to Sanskrit bhūrja kind of birch
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for birch

birch

noun
  1. any betulaceous tree or shrub of the genus Betula, having thin peeling barkSee also silver birch
  2. the hard close-grained wood of any of these trees
  3. the birch a bundle of birch twigs or a birch rod used, esp formerly, for flogging offenders
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adjective
  1. of, relating to, or belonging to the birch
  2. consisting or made of birch
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verb
  1. (tr) to flog with a birch
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Derived Formsbirchen, adjective

Word Origin

Old English bierce; related to Old High German birihha, Sanskrit bhūrja
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 birch

n.

Old English berc, beorc (also the name of the rune for "b"), from Proto-Germanic *berkjon (cf. Old Saxon birka, Old Norse börk, Danish birk, Swedish björk, Middle Dutch berke, Dutch berk, Old High German birihha, German Birke), from PIE *bhergo (cf. Ossetian barz, Old Church Slavonic breza, Russian bereza, Lithuanian beržas, Sanskrit bhurjah, Latin farnus, fraxinus "mountain ash"), from root *bhereg- "to gleam, white." Meaning "bunch of birch twigs used for flogging" (1640s) led to verb meaning "to flog" (1830). Related: Birched; birching. Birch beer is by 1827, American English.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper