any tree or shrub of the genus Betula, comprising species with a smooth, laminated outer bark and close-grained wood. Compare birch family.
the wood itself.
a birch rod, or a bundle of birch twigs, used especially for whipping.
verb (used with object)
to beat or punish with or as if with a birch: The young ruffians were birched soundly by their teacher.

before 900; Middle English birche, Old English birce; cognate with Old High German birka (German Birke); akin to Sanskrit bhūrja kind of birch Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
birch (bɜːtʃ)
1.  See also silver birch any betulaceous tree or shrub of the genus Betula, having thin peeling bark
2.  the hard close-grained wood of any of these trees
3.  the birch a bundle of birch twigs or a birch rod used, esp formerly, for flogging offenders
4.  of, relating to, or belonging to the birch
5.  consisting or made of birch
6.  (tr) to flog with a birch
[Old English bierce; related to Old High German birihha, Sanskrit bhūrja]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. beorc (also the name of the rune for "b"), from P.Gmc. *berkjon (O.S. birka, O.N. börk, Swed. björk, Du. berk, Ger. Birke), from PIE *bhergo (cf. Ossetian barz, O.C.S. breza, Rus. bereza, Lith. beras, Skt. bhurjah, L. farnus, fraxinus "mountain ash"), from base *bhereg- "to gleam, white."
Meaning "bunch of birch twigs used for flogging" (1640s) led to verb meaning "to flog" (1830). Birch beer is 1883, Amer.Eng.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The desk is also made of birch, its edge gently curved to echo the ceiling's
To create your own instant workspace anywhere, put a flat birch hollow-core
  door atop two adjustable sawhorses.
They're catching chickens and gathering damp birch sticks.
If the leaf contains carotene, birch trees for example, the fading leaf changes
  from green to yellow.
Image for birch
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