Definition of birch in US English:



  • 1A slender, fast-growing tree that has thin bark (often peeling) and bears catkins. Birch trees grow chiefly in north temperate regions, some reaching the northern limit of tree growth.

    Genus Betula, family Betulaceae: many species, including the yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis) of North America

    • ‘It may be that it holds conversations with the trees that grow around us here, the English oaks, beeches and birches and the lesser trees, holly, rowan, ash, elder and hazel.’
    • ‘I have brought all my documentation with me, and I am back to see how my birch tree is doing after two years.’
    • ‘‘The figures are formed as though they come from the peeling bark of a birch tree and they are encountering each other and meeting one another,’ he said.’
    • ‘It is supposed to represent two people meeting as well the bark of a birch tree.’
    • ‘A birch tree in a very sheltered corner is favoured.’
    • ‘Police want to identify areas where the western hemlock (tsuga heterophylla) and the birch tree grow together and York council staff have offered to help identify locations.’
    • ‘But soon comes the spectacular fall colors of the birch tree, signaling the fast approach of winter and the long dark days that took a heavy toll on Mr. Littlejohn after his arrival in 1987.’
    • ‘They stopped in front of the bell-pull on the bough of the birch tree.’
    • ‘Other favorite host plants are oaks, apple, hawthorn, birches, boxelder, willow, and sumac.’
    • ‘I hadn't noticed it before, but a light fog misted over the far off maples and oaks and straggly birches and weeping willows in dusk, dreary cheer.’
    • ‘Well she used to hang by one paw from the top of the birch tree, and the birch tree branches are really, really supple, and she'd hang by one paw just sort of wondering where to go next, and she was a tiny thing, you know.’
    • ‘Married to painter Andreas Krajanek, she started collecting the bark of the Himalayan birch tree and painting on them.’
    • ‘Looking out across the pond one sees a cherry tree in palest pink, and, farther away, the glistening white trunks of an old birch tree.’
    • ‘After a minute of searching, he found what he was looking for: A tell-tale wire winding up a large birch tree.’
    • ‘Rose cried throughout the whole thing and after the two guards had turned away for the night, she snuck out from the birch tree and ran up to Runako with tears streaming down her face.’
    • ‘There is a small railed garden to the front of the house, while the 55 foot long back garden is west facing and includes a patio, raised deck and a lawn framed by a weeping birch tree, wisteria, bamboo and white cherry blossom.’
    • ‘In cold climates, you could substitute a trio of birches for the tree aloes and underplant them with blue fescue.’
    • ‘Weeping birches, upright junipers, arborvitae, spreading Japanese maple, and weeping cherry provide the foundation planting.’
    • ‘Shifting her gaze to the nearby birch tree at the corner of the small garden, she saw a golden falcon that had served its purpose of bringing her to the Forbidden Garden and reuniting her with her lost love, and of course, her lost memories.’
    • ‘I noticed a couple of other robins watching her from their seat on the birch tree, but none seemed to chirp out orders, directions or instructions on what she should do next.’
    club, cudgel, bludgeon, shillelagh
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    1. 1.1 The hard fine-grained pale wood of any of the birch trees.
      • ‘The entrance hall and family room have silver birchwood flooring.’
      • ‘Luminosity is enhanced by planes of the pale brick, and by using birch veneered panels on the inner walls of the galleries.’
      • ‘His railway, finished in 1837, was an immediate success, even though the native birchwood used as fuel produced showers of sparks and complaints by smouldering passengers.’
      • ‘Native fruitwoods and birch were more likely to be found in bourgeois houses.’
      • ‘The table and chairs, both made from birch plywood veneered with ash, have a pale wood finish and boast simple, clean lines giving them an undeniably contemporary look.’
      • ‘I asked Mitchell about the wood since it looked a lot like birch.’
      • ‘He cuts a long, fat fillet from the fish and lays it skin-down on a fresh plank of wood - birch, he tells me.’
      • ‘Crates will be improved with many different varieties of wood, including pine, birch, and even mahogany!’
      • ‘Here are floors of heat-treated birch (a process which hardens and darkens the wood).’
      • ‘And then you've got the work in the luxury saloon sector, where people are phoning out for still bigger pieces of aluminium and ordering up even larger chunks of birchwood, in accordance with a mission to go faster, fatter.’
      • ‘The third gaming table, of mahogany and birch, was made in either Boston or Salem, about 1805 to 1815.’
      • ‘For instance, artist Steven Schubert, whose three-dimensional birchwood sculptures are exhibited at 40-plus galleries across the country, created a seated angel, ‘Tara,’ floating in water.’
      • ‘The conference room is formed in wood, and clad in pale birch.’
      • ‘At the semi-custom level, birch and poplar doors are also available, and white doors are lacquered, a more expensive process that gives a more refined look.’
      • ‘Weekend working parties had previously built a delightful chapel, furnished with articles made of birchwood and with an altar of cherrywood.’
      • ‘What may follow in the path of the dead forest will likely be a mix of grasses and more hardwood trees like birch, aspen and alder.’
      • ‘The frames were usually of pine or veneered with mahogany, birch, or elm.’
      • ‘The desk-and-bookcase of about 1820 is made of mahogany, birch, and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine as secondary woods.’
      • ‘Secondly, yew staves can cost $120.00 U.S. now, while most people have the ability to go and cut down their own maple, ash, white oak, birch or hickory tree for little or no cost.’
      • ‘Christopher knows his trade and selects his wood from birch, oak or yew.’
  • 2the birchhistorical A formal punishment in which a person is flogged with a bundle of birch twigs.

    ‘there were calls to bring back the birch’
    • ‘He was not amused, especially when he heard that that same bunch had voted to bring back the birch only two weeks earlier.’
    • ‘I'd strongly advocate bringing back the birch and use it to punish vandals.’
    • ‘After the meeting, Mr Jones said that in some cases people wanted to see a return to capital punishments like the birch and cane.’
    • ‘Aren't there times when you're tempted to bring back the birch?’
    • ‘‘Bring back the birch,’ slurred Mrs Mungo into her umpteenth pre-prandial sherry.’
    baton, stick, staff, pole, bar, dowel, rod, stake
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[with object]historical
  • Beat (someone) with a bundle of birch twigs as a formal punishment.

    ‘the school would attempt to birch them into submission’
    • ‘The majority of the 231 birching orders were in cities, not towns: seventy in Edinburgh, sixty-nine in Glasgow, and twenty-six in Aberdeen.’
    • ‘But in a court case the boy was birched by a policeman who he had never seen before.’
    • ‘Wasn't that membership also the reason that they abolished birching?’
    • ‘In the case of one unsuccessful bid for his son to be birched, a father announced that he would give his boy a ‘good hiding when he got home.’’
    • ‘Why not also revert to flogging, birching, amputation and so on.’
    strike, slap, smack, cuff, punch, beat, thrash, thump, batter, belabour, drub, hook, pound, smash, slam, welt, pummel, hammer, bang, knock, swat, whip, flog, cane, sucker-punch, rain blows on, give someone a beating, give someone a drubbing, give someone a good beating, give someone a good drubbing, box someone's ears
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Old English bierce, birce, of Germanic origin; related to German Birke.