Definition of birch in English:

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Pronunciation: /bərCH/


1 (also birch tree) A 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
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
1.1 (also birchwood) The hard fine-grained pale wood of any of the birch trees.
Example sentences
  • Weekend working parties had previously built a delightful chapel, furnished with articles made of birchwood and with an altar of cherrywood.
  • 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.
  • 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.
2 (the birch) chiefly historical A formal punishment in which a person is flogged with a bundle of birch twigs.
Example sentences
  • After the meeting, Mr Jones said that in some cases people wanted to see a return to capital punishments like the birch and cane.
  • I'd strongly advocate bringing back the birch and use it to punish vandals.
  • ‘Bring back the birch,’ slurred Mrs Mungo into her umpteenth pre-prandial sherry.


[with object] chiefly historical
Beat (someone) with a bundle of birch twigs as a formal punishment.
Example sentences
  • But in a court case the boy was birched by a policeman who he had never seen before.
  • The majority of the 231 birching orders were in cities, not towns: seventy in Edinburgh, sixty-nine in Glasgow, and twenty-six in Aberdeen.
  • 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.’



Pronunciation: /ˈbərCH(ə)n/
( archaic)
Example sentences
  • Yet the use of birchen rods for the correction of children is of very great antiquity.
  • Little troughs of basswood and birchen basins were also made to receive the sweet drops as they trickled from the tree.
  • It's not sure what he transported in the little box made of birchen bark.


Old English bierce, birce, of Germanic origin; related to German Birke.

Words that rhyme with birch

besmirch, church, lurch, perch, search, smirch

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: birch

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