Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A bundle of twigs attached to a handle and used as a broom.
  • n. Sports The broom used to sweep the ice from the path of a curling stone.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A broom made from a bundle of twigs tied onto a shaft.
  • v. To sweep.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A brush of twigs for sweeping; a broom; anything which sweeps away or destroys.
  • transitive v. To sweep, as with a besom.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To sweep as with a besom.
  • n. A brush of twigs for sweeping; hence, a broom of any kind.
  • n. A name given to the common broom of Europe, Cytisus scoparius, and to the heather, Calluna vulgaris, because both are used for besoms.
  • n. [Pron. biz′ um.] A contemptuous epithet for a low, worthless woman.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a broom made of twigs tied together on a long handle

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English besma.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English besme, beseme, from Old English besma, besema ("besom, broom, rod"), from Proto-Germanic *besmô, *besamô (“broom”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰes- (“to rub off, grind, sprinkle”). Cognate with Scots besom, bisom ("a sweeping implement, broom"), West Frisian biezem ("broom"), Dutch bezem ("broom"), Low German bessen ("broom"), German Besen ("broom"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Note: [1] A besom is a long handled broom with the head made out of pieces of twig lashed together.

    Grotesque

  • The conjecture is confirmed by the name thunder-besom which is applied to mistletoe in the Swiss canton of Aargau, for the epithet clearly implies a close connexion between the parasite and the thunder; indeed "thunder-besom" is a popular name in Germany for any bushy nest-like excrescence growing on a branch, because such a parasitic growth is actually believed by the ignorant to be a product of lightning.

    The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion

  • The conjecture is confirmed by the name thunder-besom which is applied to mistletoe in the Swiss canton of Aargau, for the epithet clearly implies a close connexion between the parasite and the thunder; indeed “thunder-besom” is a popular name in Germany for any bushy nest-like excrescence growing on a branch, because such a parasitic growth is actually believed by the ignorant to be a product of lightning.

    Chapter 68. The Golden Bough

  • The conjecture is confirmed by the name thunder-besom which is applied to mistletoe in the Swiss canton of Aargau, for the epithet clearly implies a close connexion between the parasite and the thunder; indeed

    The Golden Bough

  • Theobald replaced the meaningless epithet 'besom' by

    A Life of William Shakespeare with portraits and facsimiles

  • The conjecture is confirmed by the name thunder-besom which is applied to mistletoe in the Swiss canton of Aargau, for the epithet clearly implies a close connexion between the parasite and the thunder; indeed “thunder-besom” is a popular name in Germany for any bushy nest-like excrescence growing on a branch, because such a parasitic growth is actually believed by the ignorant to be a product of lightning.

    The Golden Bough : a study of magic and religion

  • All good suits have "besom" pockets - that is, a narrow edge sewn in two lines around the slit.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • Yon's twa weavers and a mason cursing the laird, and the man wi 'the besom is the Master of Crumnathie. "

    The Little Minister

  • "besom" and there were two thousand recorded deaths beside multitudes unnoted.

    De la philosophie de la nature

  • The spa offers a traditional Russian banya experience, involving a ritual of hot saunas, cold baths and an invigorating banya besom treatment—a stimulating massage using birch or oak twigs.

    Latvia's Burgeoning Spa Scene

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Comments

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  • A contemptuous designation for a low woman; a prostitute. --Dr. Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary and Supplement, 1841.

    June 24, 2011

  • "It is unlikely that Rhea would have seen Susan's face through the dense overgrowth of pig ivy even if the old besom had been looking in that direction, and she wasn't." From Wizard and Glass by Stephen King.

    January 22, 2011

  • Mr. James sat up. "What's that? What is it you're saying? Hec, you're talking of making a pair, are you?" Amusement always made his voice sound gross. "Has he asked you to marry him then, ye shy wee besom?"

    - Rebecca West, The Judge

    July 29, 2009