billhook

See also: bill-hook and bill hook

English

 
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A billhook (agricultural implement)

Alternative forms

Etymology

Earliest use in weapon (and later, agricultural) sense, bill (a bladed pike) +‎ hook; other senses formed anew from various meanings of bill.

Noun

billhook (plural billhooks)

  1. (weaponry) A medieval polearm with a similar construct, fitted to a long handle, sometimes with an L-shaped tine or a spike protruding from the side or the end of the blade for tackling the opponent; a bill
  2. An agricultural implement often with a curved or hooked end to the blade used for pruning or cutting thick, woody plants.
    • 1869, Richard D. Blackmore, Lorna Doone, chapter 38
      I worked very hard in the copse of young ash, with my billhook and a shearing-knife; cutting out the saplings where they stooled too close together, making spars to keep for thatching, wall-crooks to drive into the cob, stiles for close sheep hurdles, and handles for rakes, and hoes, and two-bills, of the larger and straighter stuff.
    • 1887, Hardy, The Woodlanders, chapter 19:
      With a small billhook he carefully freed the collar of the tree from twigs and patches of moss which incrusted it to a height of a foot or two above the ground, an operation comparable to the "little toilet" of the executioner's victim.
  3. Written as bill-hook: a part of the knotting mechanism in a reaper-binder or baler (agricultural machinery).
  4. Written as bill hook: a spiked hook used in offices and shops for hanging bills or other small papers such as receipts.
  5. (ornithology) Written as bill hook: a sharply pointed spike growing from the tip of the upper mandible of the hatchlings of honeyguides, used to destroy the eggs and kill the chicks of the host species.

Synonyms

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Descendants

  • Irish: bileog
  • Welsh: bilwg

Translations

Verb

billhook (third-person singular simple present billhooks, present participle billhooking, simple past and past participle billhooked)

  1. To use a billhook
    • 2010, Arto Paasilinna, The Year of the Hare: A Novel:
      Toward the end of July, Vatanen took a forestry job. It meant billhooking and chopping excessive undergrowth from the woods on the sandy ridges around Kuhmo and living in a tent with an ever more faithful, almost full- grown hare.

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