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Birch trees Betula pendula (1)


PIE word

From Middle English birche, birk, from Old English birċe, bierċe, from Proto-West Germanic *birkijā, from Proto-Germanic *birkijǭ, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰerHǵos.



birch (countable and uncountable, plural birches)

  1. Any of various trees of the genus Betula, native to countries in the Northern Hemisphere.
  2. A hard wood taken from the birch tree, typically used to make furniture.
  3. A stick, rod or bundle of twigs made from birch wood, used for punishment.
  4. A birch-bark canoe.


Derived termsEdit



birch (third-person singular simple present birches, present participle birching, simple past and past participle birched)

  1. To punish with a stick, bundle of twigs, or rod made of birch wood.
  2. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) To punish as though one were using a stick, bundle of twigs, or rod made of birch wood.
    • 1902, M. M. Read, “The Midnight Feast”, in The Boy's Own Annual, volume 25, page 63:
      That the morrow would see us arraigned 'fore the Head
      And probably birched with a willow
    • 2012, Charles J. Esdaile, Outpost of Empire: The Napoleonic Occupation of Andalucia, 1810–1812, page 319:
      [] and was tied to a tree and soundly birched with a bundle of furze
    • 2013, Hugh Thomas, Conquest: Cortes, Montezuma, and the Fall of Old Mexico, page 292:
      The Mexica were always washing, in water obtained through the aqueduct, or in the lake, and would often go to the popular baths in the numerous stone steam houses (where birching, with grasses, or massage was also available).

Derived termsEdit



  • birch at OneLook Dictionary Search.
  • birch in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.

Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of birche