One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A European elm with large rough leaves, chiefly growing in woodland or near flowing water.
Ulmus glabra, family Ulmaceae
- ‘Several types of wood could be used; the late 12th-century writer Gerald of Wales noted the prowess of the men of Gwent with powerful longbows made from wych elm, while ash, particularly favoured for arrows, was also used for bows.’
- ‘However, a shortage of yew trees meant that ash, elm or wych elm were also used.’
Early 17th century: wych, used in names of trees with pliant branches, from Old English wic(e), apparently from a Germanic root meaning ‘bend’; related to weak.
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