a branch of a tree, especially one of the larger or main branches.

Origin of bough

before 1000; Middle English bogh, Old English bōg, bōh shoulder, bough; cognate with Old Norse bōgr, Dutch boeg, German Bug, Greek pêchys, Sanskrit bāhu
Related formsbough·less, adjectiveun·der·bough, noun
Can be confusedbough bow

Synonym study

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

Related Words for bough

sprig, shoot, fork, sucker, offshoot, limb, arm

Examples from the Web for bough

Historical Examples of bough

  • So he took a bough of fir, thick-set with little twigs, and tied the kill on that.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • Nay, he would not be butchered like a bird on a bough, he would fall fighting.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • Did you see those two birds fly away from that bough, sudden-like?

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • The seventh of these hath a bough which shoots over the boundary wall.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • They bent down the bough and picked it, and then allowed it to fly up again.

British Dictionary definitions for bough



any of the main branches of a tree

Word Origin for bough

Old English bōg arm, twig; related to Old Norse bōgr shoulder, ship's bow, Old High German buog shoulder, Greek pēkhus forearm, Sanskrit bāhu; see bow ³, elbow
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 bough

Old English bog "shoulder, arm," extended in Old English to "twig, branch" (cf. limb (n.1)), from Proto-Germanic *bogaz (cf. Old Norse bogr "shoulder," Old High German buog, German Bug "shoulder, hock, joint"), from PIE *bhagus "elbow, forearm" (cf. Sanskrit bahus "arm," Armenian bazuk, Greek pakhys "forearm"). The "limb of a tree" sense is peculiar to English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper