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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English twig, twyg, from Old English twīg, from Proto-Germanic *twīgą (compare West Frisian twiich, Dutch twijg, German Zweig), from Proto-Indo-European *dwigʰa- (compare Old Church Slavonic двигъ (dvigŭ, branch), Albanian degë (branch)), from *dwóh₁. More at two.


  • (US) IPA(key): /twɪɡ/, [tʰw̥ɪɡ]
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪɡ


 twig on Wikipedia

twig (plural twigs)

  1. A small thin branch of a tree or bush.
    They used twigs and leaves as a base to start the fire.
    • 1907, Harold Bindloss, chapter 1, in The Dust of Conflict[1]:
      A beech wood with silver firs in it rolled down the face of the hill, and the maze of leafless twigs and dusky spires cut sharp against the soft blueness of the evening sky.
Derived terms[edit]


twig (third-person singular simple present twigs, present participle twigging, simple past and past participle twigged)

  1. (transitive) To beat with twigs.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Irish and Scottish Gaelic tuig (to understand).


twig (third-person singular simple present twigs, present participle twigging, simple past and past participle twigged)

  1. (colloquial, regional) To realise something; to catch on; to recognize someone or something.
    He hasn't twigged that we're planning a surprise party for him.
    • 1765, “A Song in High Life”, in The Merry Medley, volume 1, London: W. Hoggard, page 35:
      I pray you now send me some dub, / A bottle or two to the needy. / I beg you won't bring it yourself, / The harman is at the Old-Bailey; / I'd rather you'd send it behalf, / For, if they twig you they'll nail you.
    • 1915, “Putting on the Screw”, in Caught in the Net, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, translation of Les Esclaves de Paris by Émile Gaboriau, page 23:
      I twigged him at once, by the description you gave me. I never see a cove togged out as he was,—tall hat, light sit-down-upons, and a short coat—wasn't it cut short! but in really bang-up style.
      J'y ai reconnu le particulier que vous m'avez dit. Bien vêtu, ma foi! Chapeau rogné, tout plat, pantalon clair, en fourreau de parapluie, veston court, oh! mais d'un court... enfin, le dernier genre.
    • 2012 May 30, McIntyre, John E., “A future for copy editors”, in Baltimore Sun[2]:
      Well, with fewer people doing two or three times the work, you may have already twigged to this.
  2. To understand the meaning of (a person); to comprehend.
    Do you twig me?
  3. To observe slyly; also, to perceive; to discover.
    • 1763, Foote, Samuel, The Mayor of Garratt, act 2:
      Now twig him; now mind him: mark how he hawls his muscles about.
    • 1863, Hawthorne, Nathaniel, Our Old Home:
      This excellent man appears to have sunk into himself in a sitting posture, [] while his exceedingly homely and wrinkled face, held a little on one side, twinkles at you with the shrewdest complacency, as if he were looking right into your eyes and twigged something there which you had half a mind to conceal from him.

Etymology 3[edit]

Compare tweak.


twig (third-person singular simple present twigs, present participle twigging, simple past and past participle twigged)

  1. (obsolete, Scotland) To twitch; to pull; to tweak.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for twig in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


From Old English twīg, from Proto-Germanic *twīgą.



twig (plural twigges)

  1. Any part of a tree, especially a branch or cutting:
    1. A twig or tillow; a shoot branching off a tree.
    2. A easily bending branch used in crafts.
  2. (figuratively, rare) A subtype or part of something; the result or descendant of something.


  • English: twig
  • Scots: twigg, tuigg