One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A small Eurasian willow which grows mostly in wet habitats. It is usually coppiced, being a major source of the long flexible shoots (withies) used in basketwork.
- ‘Similarly, when flooded, the common osier is able to aerate upper adventitious roots, while deeper roots rely on anoxia-tolerance for their survival.’
- ‘Reed-fringed dykes in the very centre of the vast Halvergate marshes harbour a few in winter; Fenland osier copses are equally attractive.’
- 1.1 A shoot of a willow.
- ‘You play it by hitting the outside with a big wooden kiyak and the inside with a small osier which plays the part of the small drum, not used in Bulgarian folk music.’
- ‘The Lycians are cutting osiers by a pool and will not let her drink the water; indeed to make sure she cannot refresh herself, they stomp around in the mud, stirring up the silt on the bottom out of pure spite.’
- 1.2dated Any willow tree.
- ‘You then discover the placidity of Berkshire: hawthorn, alder and osier hemming in the path; beyond them, water meadows where horses pad about.’
Late Middle English: from Old French; compare with medieval Latin auseria ‘osier bed’.
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