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

  • transitive v. To ruin through clumsiness.
  • transitive v. To make or perform clumsily; bungle.
  • transitive v. To repair or mend clumsily.
  • n. A ruined or defective piece of work: "I have made a miserable botch of this description” ( Nathaniel Hawthorne).
  • n. A hodgepodge.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To perform (a task) in an unacceptable or incompetent manner; to make a mess of something; to ruin; to bungle; to spoil; to destroy.
  • v. To do something without skill, without care, or clumsily.
  • n. An action, job, or task that has been performed very badly.
  • n. A ruined, defective, or clumsy piece of work; mess; bungle.
  • n. A mistake that is very stupid or embarrassing.
  • n. A messy, disorderly or confusing combination; conglomeration; hodgepodge.
  • n. A tumour or other malignant swelling.
  • n. A case or outbreak of boils or sores.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A swelling on the skin; a large ulcerous affection; a boil; an eruptive disease.
  • n. A patch put on, or a part of a garment patched or mended in a clumsy manner.
  • n. Work done in a bungling manner; a clumsy performance; a piece of work, or a place in work, marred in the doing, or not properly finished; a bungle.
  • transitive v. To mark with, or as with, botches.
  • transitive v. To repair; to mend; esp. to patch in a clumsy or imperfect manner, as a garment; -- sometimes with up.
  • transitive v. To put together unsuitably or unskillfully; to express or perform in a bungling manner; to bungle; to spoil or mar, as by unskillful work.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To mark with botches.
  • To mend or patch in a clumsy manner, as a garment: often used figuratively.
  • To put together unsuitably or unskilfully; perform, express, etc., in a bungling manner; hence, to spoil by unskilful work; bungle.
  • To mend or patch things in an unskilful manner; be a bungler or botcher.
  • n. A swelling on the skin; a large ulcerous affection; a boil.
  • n. A bungled or ill-finished part; a flaw; a blemish.
  • n. A patch, or a part of a garment patched or mended in a clumsy manner.
  • n. That which is botched; ill-finished or bungled work generally.
  • n. A bungling, unskilful workman or operator of any kind; a botcher.

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

  • n. an embarrassing mistake
  • v. make a mess of, destroy or ruin


Middle English bocchen, to mend.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English bocchen ("to mend"), of uncertain origin. (Wiktionary)
From Anglo-Norman boche, from Late Latin bocia ("boss"). (Wiktionary)


  • The Arabic judham (De 28: 35), where "sore botch" is rather the black burning boil (Isa 1: 6).

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

  • In fact, it is a disgraceful idea, an appalling, short-term botch that would set a horrible precedent. news feed

  • POTUS Jr. began the speech well, just as Greg had drafted it, making sure to butcher a phrase and botch pronunciation for that proven populist posture.

    Grand Heads for America: A Fable of Exceptionalism

  • IV. i.60 (228,3) [This ruffian hath botch'd up] I fancy it is only a coarse expression for _made up_, as a bad taylor is called a _botcher_. and to botch is to make clumsily.

    Notes to Shakespeare — Volume 01: Comedies

  • 7. The new civil plaza is coming along as well in Keelung photos here, but I have a feeling they will make the #1 biggest design mistake that every Taiwan designer seems to botch, that is no shade for seating.

    Daily Links, May 7, 2009

  • Is that a "botch" or something called a paraphrase?

    What's the most famous Barack Obama quote?

  • But it's also fine to query as to what people think Voltaire meant ... and whether, in fact, Barack's "botch" is really one, or whether the general understanding of Voltaire's proverb is botched.

    What's the most famous Barack Obama quote?

  • Why did he need to "botch" a joke about the president?

    Sound Politics: "Cantwell Doesn't Care"

  • I personally think it's slightly more likely than not that he meant to joke about Bush and did indeed "botch" the joke.

    Is Kerry obsolete yet?

  • A handshake, with no thrill of love in it such as might have furnished her palm, at least, some memories to dwell upon; a few stilted words of leave-taking; a halting, meaningless sentence or two about his "botch" of life -- then he walked away from the Wentworth doorstep.

    Homespun Tales


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "To leave no rubs nor botches in the work…"
    Shakespeare's Macbeth to the murderers re the matter of Banquo's murder.

    According to the Cambridge UP edition this is the OED's earliest citation for "botch".

    The Royal Shakespeare Co. used to sell a rubber (eraser) with this quote printed on it. Cute.

    I love this word.

    August 24, 2008