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From Middle English withe, withthe, from Old English wiþe, wiþþe (cord, band, thong, fetter), from Proto-Germanic *wiþiz, *wiþjǭ (cord, rope), from Proto-Indo-European *wéh₁itis (that which twines), from *weyt- (that which winds or bends, branch, switch), from Proto-Indo-European *wey- (to turn, wind, bend). Cognate with Danish vidje (wicker), Swedish vidja (withe, wicker, osier), Icelandic við, viðja (a withe), Latin vītis (vine). Doublet of vice (a type of tool, etc.).


  • enPR: wĭth, th, wīth
    • (UK) IPA(key): /wɪθ/, /wɪð/, /waɪð/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪθ, -ɪð, -aɪð


withe (plural withes)

  1. A flexible, slender twig or shoot, especially when used as a band or for binding; a withy.
    • 1997, Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon:
      Perhaps indifferent to their social Rejection, he sets to work separating his Tree into Poles, Sticks, and Withes, and placing them wherever in the Structures of Dam or Lodge he feels they need to go.
  2. A band of twisted twigs.
  3. An elastic handle to a tool to save the hand from the shock of blows.
  4. (nautical) An iron attachment on one end of a mast or boom, with a ring, through which another mast or boom is rigged out and secured.
    • -, R. H. Dana., The Seaman's Friend:
      Some short topgallant masts are rigged with a withe on the after part of the mast-head, through which a sliding-gunter royal-mast is run up, with its heel resting in a step on the topmast cap.
  5. (architecture) A partition between flues in a chimney.



withe (third-person singular simple present withes, present participle withing, simple past and past participle withed)

  1. To bind with withes.
    • 1862, James Fenimore Cooper, The Deerslayer, page 341:
      As soon as the body of Deerslayer was withed in bark sufficiently to create a lively sense of helplessness, he was literally carried to a young tree, and bound against it, in a way that effectually prevented it from moving,
    • 1888, Virgil Chittenden Hart, Western China: a journey to the great Buddhist centre of Mount Omei, page 132:
      These frames are usually constructed of rough trees tightly withed and wedged together.
    • 1890, Edward Augustus Samuels, With fly-rod and camera, page 184:
      The strips are first laid on the back and two sides of the shanty, and are kept smooth and in proper position by poles laid across them and withed down to the frame.
    • 1913, Newton Horace Winchell; Minnesota Historical Society, The weathering of aboriginal stone artifacts, no. 1, page 121:
      If it were withed by the aborigine it would have formed an effective and dangerous weapon, either in the chase of the large beasts with which he was contemporary or in war against his human enemies.
  2. To beat with withes.
    • 1888 June 30, Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia., “State v. Davis.”, in The Southeastern reporter, volume 7:
      Question. Did you hear of the circumstances of William Davis having been whipped on the 5th day of December, the day before the cutting took place? Answer Yes, sir; I did that evening, when he came home. Q. Did you examine where he had been withed? A. Yes, sir.
    • 1901, Oren Frederic Morton, Winning or losing?: a story of the West Virginia Hills:
      "He'll trim you up for tossing Suse that note," said Am Bayne to his own companion. / "Ye-es, and you'll get a withing, too," declared the other.
    • 1913, Richard Nye Price, Holston Methodism, volume 4, page 494:
      After I was on they commenced withing my horse to make him go faster, but I reined him up; ... They then commenced withing me around the shoulders, saying it would have a better effect than to whip the horse.