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[beech] /bitʃ/
any tree of the genus Fagus, of temperate regions, having a smooth gray bark and bearing small, edible, triangular nuts.
Also called beechwood. the wood of such a tree.
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.
Origin of beech
before 900; Middle English beche, Old English bēce < Germanic *bōkjōn-; akin to Old Saxon, Middle Low German boke, Dutch beuk, Old High German buohha (German Buche), Old Norse bōk, Latin fāgus beech, Doric Greek phāgós, Albanian bung oak (apparently not akin to book)
Related forms
beechen, adjective
beechy, adjective
Can be confused
beach, beech. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for beechen
Historical Examples
  • He windeth a wreath of the beechen tree, Lest men her shining shoulders see.

    Poems by the Way William Morris
  • The essence of clover and grass and dandelions and beechen woods is here.

  • Diomede obeyed, and the beechen axle groaned beneath the weight of the hero and the goddess.

    Stories from the Iliad H. L. Havell
  • The red-bird flutters lower down in the coppice of green pawpaws, or amidst the amber leaflets of the beechen thicket.

    The Scalp Hunters Mayne Reid
  • His aged head, crowned with beechen wreath, Seem'd like a poll of ivy in the teeth160 Of winter hoar.

    Endymion John Keats
  • beechen frames are best, and the seat formed of rather closely-woven canvas fixed at top and bottom and hanging in a curve.

    The Turkish Bath Robert Owen Allsop
  • A beechen bowl was filled with warm water, that their guests might wash.

  • Piles of pine and beechen boards were heaped around them, and the sawyers were busily plying their lonely business.

    The Lands of the Saracen Bayard Taylor
  • beechen bowls, curiously carved, were highly prized by the ancient shepherds.

    Woodland Gleanings Charles Tilt
  • I dwelt with rapture on the piny hills of Phrygia, on the gorges of Taurus, on the beechen solitudes of Olympus.

    The Lands of the Saracen Bayard Taylor
British Dictionary definitions for beechen


any N temperate tree of the genus Fagus, esp F. sylvatica of Europe, having smooth greyish bark: family Fagaceae
any tree of the related genus Nothofagus, of temperate Australasia and South America
the hard wood of any of these trees, used in making furniture, etc
Derived Forms
beechen, beechy, adjective
Word Origin
Old English bēce; related to Old Norse bók, Old High German buohha, Middle Dutch boeke, Latin fāgus beech, Greek phēgos edible oak
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 beechen



Old English bece "beech," from Proto-Germanic *bokjon (cf. Old Norse bok, Dutch beuk, Flemish boek, Old High German buohha, German Buche, Middle Dutch boeke "beech"), from PIE root *bhagos "beech tree" (cf. Greek phegos "oak," Latin fagus "beech," Russian buzina "elder"), perhaps with a ground sense of "edible" (and connected with the root of Greek phagein "to eat;" see -phagous). Beech mast was an ancient food source for agricultural animals across a wide stretch of Europe. Formerly with adjectival form beechen. Also see book.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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