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From Middle English besme, beseme, from Old English besma, besema (besom, broom, rod), from Proto-West Germanic *besmō (broom). Cognate with Scots besom, bisom, West Frisian biezem, Dutch bezem, Limburgish bessem, Low German bessen, German Besen.

Traditional besom.



besom (plural besoms)

  1. A broom made from a bundle of twigs tied onto a shaft.
    • 1851, “A Few Words about War and the Peace Congress.”, in Littell’s Living Age, volume 28, page 364:
      "The march of an army through a conquered country supposing it to be a highly civilized one, is a besom of destruction, whose havoc, moral and material, it would take at least a century to recover."
  2. (Scotland, Northern England, derogatory) A troublesome woman.
    • 1903, Samuel Rutherford Crockett, The Dark O' the Moon: A Novel, page 130:
      "Eh, but she was a besom, if a' tales be true !"
    • 1917, A.S. Neill., A Dominie Dismissed, page 10:
      Janet's eyes began to look dim, and I had to frown at her very hard; then I had to turn my frown on Jean ... and Janet, the besom, took advantage of my divided attention.
    • 1963, Margaret McLean MacPherson, The Shinty Boys, page 187:
      Uncle Angus went on about the behavior of the car. "She's a besom, a proper besom, her and her gears. She'll be the death of me yet one of these days."
    • 2013, Nora Kay, Best Friends:
      "She's a besom but no' bad at times, like now," Agnes said as she bit into a dough-ring.
  3. Any cleansing or purifying agent.

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]


besom (third-person singular simple present besoms, present participle besoming, simple past and past participle besomed)

  1. (archaic, poetic) To sweep.
    • 1954, Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood, page 13,
      Now, in her iceberg-white, holily laundered crinoline nightgown, under virtuous polar sheets, in her spruced and scoured dust-defying bedroom in trig and trim Bay View, a house for paying guests at the top of the town, Mrs Ogmore-Prichard widow, twice, of Mr Ogmore, linolium, retired, and Mr Prichard, failed bookmaker, who maddened by besoming, swabbing and scrubbing, the voice of the vacuum-cleaner and the fume of polish, ironically swallowed disinfectant...




besom (Cyrillic spelling бесом)

  1. instrumental singular of bes


besom (Cyrillic spelling бесом)

  1. instrumental singular of besa