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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 bough
Historical Examples
  • At one of the stakes we built a bough house so that the rope from the net would pass through the house.

  • It shall not return to the bough from which it has been plucked.

    Chaldea Znade A. Ragozin
  • When it was midday, they saw a beautiful snow-white bird sitting on a bough.

    Good Stories For Great Holidays Frances Jenkins Olcott
  • Instead, the bough pokes it on the forehead, or eyes, or cheeks.

    The Wonders of the Jungle Prince Sarath Ghosh
  • Every bough and every branch bore something useful as well as ornamental.

    What Might Have Been Expected Frank R. Stockton
  • But who fears poverty when hope and love are singing on the bough!

    They and I Jerome K. Jerome
  • You have surprised this or that insect, motionless on a bough, blissfully basking in the sun.

  • But, being an honest Christian man, bough treated the girl like his own.

    The Dop Doctor Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
  • Beneath the bough and the star,In a whispering foreign tongue, They talked of a land afarAnd the merry days so young!

  • He left a hundred pounds with bough, to be kept for her till she was twenty.

    The Dop Doctor Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
British Dictionary definitions for bough


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 bough

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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