any member of the plant family Fagaceae, characterized by trees and shrubs having alternate, usually toothed or lobed leaves, male flowers in catkins and female flowers either solitary or in clusters and bearing a nut enclosed in a cupule or bur, including the beeches, chestnuts, and oaks.
before 900;Middle Englishbeche,Old Englishbēce < Germanic*bōkjōn-; akin to Old Saxon,Middle Low Germanboke,Dutchbeuk,Old High Germanbuohha (GermanBuche), Old Norsebōk,Latinfāgus beech, Doric Greekphāgós,Albanianbung oak (apparently not akin to book)
O.E. bece "beech," from P.Gmc. *bokjon (cf. O.N. bok, Ger. Buche, M.Du. boeke "beech"), from PIE base *bhagos (cf. Gk. phegos "oak," L. fagus "beech," Rus. buzina "elder"), perhaps with a ground sense of "edible" (and connected with the root of Gk. phagein "to eat;" see -phagous). Beech mast was an ancient food source for agricultural animals across a wide stretch of Europe. See book.