• synonyms

white ash

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  1. See under ash2(def 1).
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Origin of white ash

An Americanism dating back to 1675–85


  1. any of various trees of the genus Fraxinus, of the olive family, especially F. excelsior, of Europe and Asia, or F. americana (white ash), of North America, having opposite, pinnate leaves and purplish flowers in small clusters.
  2. the tough, straight-grained wood of any of these trees, valued as timber.
  3. Also æsc. the symbol “æ.”
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Origin of ash2

before 900; Middle English asshe, Old English æsc; cognate with Frisian esk, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch asch, Old Saxon, Old High German asc (German Esche, with altered vowel from the adj. derivative eschen, Middle High German eschîn), Old Norse askr; akin to Latin ornus, Welsh onnen, Russian yásenʾ, Czech jasan, Lithuanian úosis, Armenian hatsʰi; Albanian ah beech; < Indo-European *Hoes-
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for white ash

Historical Examples

  • It'd have been a tough job to warp her in so far, with a white-ash breeze.

    Jim Spurling, Fisherman

    Albert Walter Tolman

  • The Indians are aware of it, and twist garlands of white-ash leaves about their ankles, as a protection against rattlesnakes.

  • The snug little nest was filled with eggs, and covered with leaves of the white-ash!

  • That little bird knew, if my readers do not, that contact with the white-ash is deadly to a snake.

  • The artist first secured a white-ash plank (A, Fig. 65), free from knots and blemishes of all kinds.

    Boat-Building and Boating

    Daniel Carter Beard

British Dictionary definitions for white ash


  1. the nonvolatile products and residue formed when matter is burnt
  2. any of certain compounds formed by burningSee soda ash
  3. fine particles of lava thrown out by an erupting volcano
  4. a light silvery grey colour, often with a brownish tinge
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See also ashes
Related formsRelated adjective: cinereous

Word Origin

Old English æsce; related to Old Norse, Old High German aska, Gothic azgō, Latin aridus dry


  1. any oleaceous tree of the genus Fraxinus, esp F. excelsior of Europe and Asia, having compound leaves, clusters of small greenish flowers, and winged seeds
  2. the close-grained durable wood of any of these trees, used for tool handles, etc
  3. any of several trees resembling the ash, such as the mountain ash
  4. Australian any of several Australian trees resembling the ash, esp of the eucalyptus genus
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Word Origin

Old English æsc; related to Old Norse askr, Old Saxon, Old High German ask, Lithuanian uosis


  1. the digraph æ, as in Old English, representing a front vowel approximately like that of the a in Modern English hat. The character is also used to represent this sound in the International Phonetic Alphabet
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n acronym for (in Britain)
  1. Action on Smoking and Health
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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 white ash



"powdery remains of fire," Old English æsce "ash," from Proto-Germanic *askon (cf. Old Norse and Swedish aska, Old High German asca, German asche, Gothic azgo "ashes"), from PIE root *as- "to burn, glow" (cf. Sanskrit asah "ashes, dust," Armenian azazem "I dry up," Greek azein "to dry up, parch," Latin ardus "parched, dry"). Spanish and Portuguese ascua "red-hot coal" are Germanic loan-words.

Symbol of grief or repentance; hence Ash Wednesday (c.1300), from custom introduced by Pope Gregory the Great of sprinkling ashes on the heads of penitents on the first day of Lent. Ashes meaning "mortal remains of a person" is late 13c., in reference to the ancient custom of cremation.

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type of tree, Old English æsc "ash tree," also "spear made of ash wood," from Proto-Germanic *askaz, *askiz (cf. Old Norse askr, Old Saxon ask, Middle Dutch esce, German Esche), from PIE root *os- "ash tree" (cf. Armenian haci "ash tree," Albanian ah "beech," Greek oxya "beech," Latin ornus "wild mountain ash," Russian jasen, Lithuanian uosis "ash"). Ash was the preferred wood for spear-shafts, so Old English æsc sometimes meant "spear" (cf. æsc-here "company armed with spears").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper