From Middle English bough, bowe, bogh, boȝe, boȝ, from Old English bōh, bōg (“arm; shoulder; bough”), from Proto-Germanic *bōguz (“upper arm; shoulder”) (compare German Bug (“shoulder, hock, joint”)), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰeh₂ǵʰús (“forearm, elbow”) (compare Ancient Greek πῆχυς (pêkhus, “forearm”), Old Armenian բազուկ (bazuk, “arm, forearm, bough”), Persian بازو (bāzu, “upper arm”), Sanskrit बाहु (bāhú, “arm”)).
bough (plural boughs)
- A firm branch of a tree.
- When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall.
- 1819 May, John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, in Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, London: Printed [by Thomas Davison] for Taylor and Hessey, […], published 1820, OCLC 927360557, stanza 3, page 114:
- Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed / Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; [...]
- 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 8, in The Celebrity:
- Now we plunged into a deep shade with the boughs lacing each other overhead, and crossed dainty, rustic bridges over the cold trout-streams, the boards giving back the clatter of our horses' feet: or anon we shot into a clearing, with a colored glimpse of the lake and its curving shore far below us.
- 2013, J. M. Coetzee, The Childhood of Jesus. Melbourne, Australia: The Text Publishing Company, chapter 18. p. 172:
- A pair of birds settle on the bough above them, murmuring together, ready to roost.
- (obsolete, poetic) The gallows.
- “bough” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.