- any of a genus (Betula) of trees and shrubs of the birch family, having smooth bark easily peeled off in thin sheets, and hard, closegrained wood: found in northern climates
- the wood of any of these trees
- a birch rod or bunch of twigs used for whipping
Origin of birchMiddle English birche ; from Old English beorc ; from Indo-European base an unverified form bhereĝ-, to gleam, white from source bright
- designating a family (Betulaceae, order Fagales) of dicotyledonous shrubs and trees, including the hazels, alders, and hornbeams
- of birchalso birchen
- a. Any of various deciduous trees or shrubs of the genus Betula, native to the Northern Hemisphere and having unisexual flowers in catkins, alternate, simple, toothed leaves, and bark that often peels in thin papery layers.b. The hard, close-grained wood of any of these trees, used especially in furniture, interior finishes, and plywood.
- A rod from a birch, used to administer a whipping.
transitive verbbirched, birch·ing, birch·es
Origin of birchMiddle English, from Old English birce; see bher&schwa;g- in Indo-European roots.
(third-person singular simple present birches, present participle birching, simple past and past participle birched)
- to punish with a stick, bundle of twigs, or rod made of birch wood.
- to punish as though one were using a stick, bundle of twigs, or rod made of birch wood.
From Middle English birche, birk, from Old English birce, bierce, from Proto-Germanic *birkijǭ (compare West Frisian bjirk, German Birke), variant of *berkō (compare Dutch berk, Swedish björk), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰérHǵos (compare Lithuanian béržas, Czech bříza, Ossetian бӕрз (bærz), Russian береза (bereza)).