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[bou] /baʊ/
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 forms
boughless, adjective
underbough, noun
Can be confused
bough, bow, branch (see synonym study at branch)
See branch. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for boughs
  • boughs twist and rent with ice up and down the sides of our street.
  • From a charpoy-a bed of sticks and string-set outside the hut, the boughs of the overhanging trees are dimly visible.
  • And from there, the dusty boughs of the gao spread in widening circles of green.
  • Provide winter cover of evergreen boughs in coldest regions.
  • The breathtaking mountain scenery is highlighted by the dark boughs of evergreen.
  • Greeks are cutting the boughs of the tree on which they are sitting.
  • There is a den not too far away atop a timbered knoll sheltered by overhanging boughs.
  • You'll often see them weaving through tangles of cedar boughs and underbrush along the road edges.
  • We sit on skins laid over spruce boughs at a low table.
  • Handcrafted tree decorations can make good neighborly gifts as well as add sparkle to one's own boughs.
British Dictionary definitions for boughs


any of the main branches of a tree
Word Origin
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 bow³, 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
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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
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