from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To perform poorly or ruin through clumsiness or ineptitude.
  • transitive verb To repair or mend clumsily or ineptly.
  • noun A ruined or defective piece of work.
  • noun A hodgepodge.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A swelling on the skin; a large ulcerous affection; a boil.
  • 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.
  • noun A bungled or ill-finished part; a flaw; a blemish.
  • noun A patch, or a part of a garment patched or mended in a clumsy manner.
  • noun That which is botched; ill-finished or bungled work generally.
  • noun A bungling, unskilful workman or operator of any kind; a botcher.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Obs. or Dial. A swelling on the skin; a large ulcerous affection; a boil; an eruptive disease.
  • noun A patch put on, or a part of a garment patched or mended in a clumsy manner.
  • noun 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 verb To mark with, or as with, botches.
  • transitive verb To repair; to mend; esp. to patch in a clumsy or imperfect manner, as a garment; -- sometimes with up.
  • transitive verb 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 Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • noun an embarrassing mistake
  • verb make a mess of, destroy or ruin


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

[Middle English bocchen, to mend.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman boche, from Late Latin bocia ("boss").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English bocchen ("to mend"), of uncertain origin.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word botch.


  • 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 1871

  • In fact, it is a disgraceful idea, an appalling, short-term botch that would set a horrible precedent. news feed 2010

  • 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 Steve Anderson 2011

  • 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 Samuel Johnson 1746

  • 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 Michael Turton 2009

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

    What's the most famous Barack Obama quote? Ann Althouse 2009

  • 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? Ann Althouse 2009

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

    Sound Politics: "Cantwell Doesn't Care" 2006

  • 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? Ann Althouse 2006

  • 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 Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin 1889


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