\ ˈbərch How to pronounce birch (audio) \

Definition of birch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of a genus (Betula of the family Betulaceae, the birch family) of monoecious deciduous trees or shrubs having simple petioled leaves and typically a layered membranous outer bark that peels readily
2 : the hard pale close-grained wood of a birch
3 : a birch rod or bundle of twigs for flogging


birched; birching; birches

Definition of birch (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to beat with or as if with a birch : whip

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Other Words from birch


birch or birchen \ ˈbər-​chən How to pronounce birch (audio) \ adjective

Examples of birch in a Sentence

Noun a cabinet made of birch In those days, schoolchildren got the birch when they misbehaved. Verb students at the private school were once routinely birched for violating the rules always a stern disciplinarian, our father birched anyone who talked back
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Geneticists were able to sequence the genome and oral microbiome of the last person to chew the birch pitch -- a girl who lived 5,700 years ago in what's now Denmark. Katie Hunt, CNN, "Science's most fascinating and awe-inspiring discoveries in 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 This Baltic birch dinosaur wine holder holds a standard 750ml wine bottle can be made with a dark walnut finish, a beeswax and orange oil finish, or an unfinished natural wood. Billy Cadden, Popular Science, "Gifts for people who really love dinosaurs," 8 Dec. 2020 In the fall, when evergreen Douglas fir was still growing and deciduous birch was losing its leaves, the net flow reversed. New York Times, "The Social Life of Forests," 2 Dec. 2020 Among them are four sessions, Dec. 19 and 20, of a hands-on class in making traditional Nordic birch bark star ornaments ( Kerri Westenberg, Star Tribune, "Virtual classes, parties and tours bring on holiday traditions from around the world," 20 Nov. 2020 Native oak, cherry, cottonwood, willow and birch are several of the best tree choices. Matthew Cicanese And Erika Reiter, Smithsonian Magazine, "Meet the Ecologist Who Wants You to Unleash the Wild on Your Backyard," 10 Apr. 2020 Growing up amid the hundreds of lakes and vast beech, maple, and birch tree forests of northern Wisconsin's Vilas County, Dr. Tim Frandy, 42, always had an affinity for the outdoors. Laura Kiniry, Condé Nast Traveler, "What We Can Learn From the Sámi Tradition of Reading Snow," 2 Dec. 2020 This board is pure luxury, made from a combination of woods, including beech and birch. Janelle Randazza, USA TODAY, "26 popular chess sets for people obsessed with The Queen's Gambit," 2 Dec. 2020 In the summer, when the smaller Douglas fir trees were generally shaded, carbon mostly flowed from birch to fir. New York Times, "The Social Life of Forests," 2 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Find yellow aspen and birch along the shoreline and red maples inland. Kerri Westenberg, Star Tribune, "Where to go in Minnesota to enjoy the fullest of fall colors," 11 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'birch.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of birch


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1808, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for birch


Middle English, from Old English beorc; akin to Old High German birka birch, Old English beorht bright, and probably to Latin fraxinus ash tree — more at bright

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Time Traveler for birch

Time Traveler

The first known use of birch was before the 12th century

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Statistics for birch

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Birch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for birch


How to pronounce birch (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of birch

: a type of tree that has outer bark which can be pulled off easily
: the hard, pale wood of the birch
British : the punishment of being hit with a birch stick


\ ˈbərch How to pronounce birch (audio) \

Kids Definition of birch

: a tree with hard wood and a smooth bark that can be peeled off in thin layers

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