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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).



besom ‎(plural besoms)

  1. A broom made from a bundle of twigs tied onto a shaft.
  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.

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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...