any tree or shrub of the genus Betula, comprising species with a smooth, laminated outer bark and close-grained wood.Compare birch family.
the wood itself.
a birch rod, or a bundle of birch twigs, used especially for whipping.


verb (used with object)

to beat or punish with or as if with a birch: The young ruffians were birched soundly by their teacher.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for birching

Historical Examples of birching

  • They have not as much as had a birching; and I say that the college masters ought to be hooted.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • Those were the good old days of birching, and yes, Mr. Morris had caught it.

    Deering of Deal

    Latta Griswold

  • The birching, bad as it had been, was redoubled in intensity.

  • Also, see that you yourself don't go into the storeroom, or I will give you a birching that you won't care for.

    Dead Souls

    Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

  • You may not believe it, but the governor actually horsed me and gave me a birching; and the diamonds were locked up from that day.

British Dictionary definitions for birching



any betulaceous tree or shrub of the genus Betula, having thin peeling barkSee also silver birch
the hard close-grained wood of any of these trees
the birch a bundle of birch twigs or a birch rod used, esp formerly, for flogging offenders


of, relating to, or belonging to the birch
consisting or made of birch


(tr) to flog with a birch
Derived Formsbirchen, adjective

Word Origin for birch

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 birching



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper