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 boughs

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

Examples from the Web for boughs

Contemporary Examples of boughs

  • Deck your halls instead with boughs of holly, shouting “Merry Christmas” (or “Happy Hanukkah”) well into the night.

    The Daily Beast logo
    A Field General in the War on Christmas

    David Freedlander

    December 24, 2014

Historical Examples of boughs

  • We heard the swish of the boughs, heavy with new snow, and then silence.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • I tried to shake off the feeling of desolation as I went to my bed of boughs.

  • Just beneath at the first forking of the boughs a candle burned.

    Bride of the Mistletoe

    James Lane Allen

  • Other boughs sagged under the weight of silvery cornucopias.

    Bride of the Mistletoe

    James Lane Allen

  • How steady it was as it moved among the boughs, extinguishing the lights.

    Bride of the Mistletoe

    James Lane Allen

British Dictionary definitions for boughs



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 boughs



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