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Friday, April 6, 2012

Today's Etymology: "Besom" -- 1837 T. Carlyle French Revol. I. iii. ix. 160 With steel-besom, Rascality is brushed back into its dim depths.



1837   T. Carlyle French Revol. I. iii. ix. 160   "With steel-besom, Rascality is brushed back into its dim depths."



besom, n.

Pronunciation:  /biːzəm/
Forms:  OE–ME besma, OE besema, ME besem, ME besme, ME beesme, bisme, ME besum, ME besumme, ... 
Etymology:  Common West Germanic: Old English besema, besma (= Old Frisian besma, Old High German besamo, Middle High German besme, besem, modern German besen, Dutch bezem) < Germanic *besmon- (not found in East Germanic). Ulterior derivation obscure.

1. A bundle of rods or twigs used as an instrument of punishment; a birch. Obs. (Latin fascis.)

c893   tr. Orosius Hist. ii. iii. §2   He‥hy‥het gebindan, and‥mid besman swingan.
a1225   St. Marher. 5   [He] strupeth hire steorcnaket‥ant beateth hire bare bodi with bittere besmen.
a1225   Juliana 16   Þu schalt beon ibeaten mid besmes.

 2. An implement for sweeping, usually made of a bunch of broom, heather, birch, or other twigs bound together round a handle; a broom. (Dialectally, as in Scotland, the generic name for sweeping implements of any material, e.g. a heather, birch, or broom besom, a hair besom; but in literary English ‘broom’ is now generic, and ‘besom’ specific.)